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Chairs: A History Hardcover – October 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Decorator and furniture historian Florence de Dampierre is the author of several books, including The Best Painted Furniture, as well as numerous articles on period furniture. She lives in Litchfield, CT.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810954842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810954847
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
No one who has seen my home would expect me to have anything to do with a furniture book. But some perceptive friend gave me this book and now I get it! Under Ms. de Dampierre's tutelage, I have grown to understand how pieces of furniture are a reflection of the times in which they were created. This study of chairs is no less fascinating than any great work of art history and the author does an incredible job of detailing changes in social and political currents which impact the design and use of each chair in her exhaustive chronology. As importantly, the pictures are beautiful; the book is worth buying for them alone.
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Format: Hardcover
Florence de Dampierre has produced what will certainly be not only the definitive guide to the chair itself but also a witty and learned look at how modes of communication in differing cultures governed the kind of furniture people invented for themselves. The scope of the book is huge, ranging from the cradle of civilization in Mesopotamia and Africa to the chair as modern art. I recommend it highly, both for serious collectors as well as anyone who has ever thought twice about the provenance of the place they've just sat down in. The book is copiously and beautifully illustrated, so it makes a lovely gift.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read Chairs; A History and find it to be fasinating from two view points. One is that it is more than a history of furniture, it is a social history of the people who sat in the chairs and their times and their culture. Secondly I will retain it for years as one of the most complete reference books on the cultural periods discussed. Finally it is beautifully illustrated and written and should be in everyone's library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a weird obsession with chairs. I'm fascinated by them and their history and this was a great compilation with great tidbits of history and great photography. In my undergraduate class of Modern History of Interiors, I used this book religiously as an outside source and used it for a few projects. It definitely outweighed my textbook, which wasn't that resourceful for furniture. I still love seeing it on my shelf and will take it down from time to time just to flip through the pages and brush up on my history of my favorite chairs.
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Format: Hardcover
In this fascinating book, De Dampierre brings a fresh perspective to world history by describing it through one of the most ubiquitous items in our daily lives: chairs. In doing so, she has produced a highly enjoyable read for both the sophisticated antique collector and the general student of history.
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Format: Hardcover
If you have ever had a conversation with a friend, or better still, been interviewed by a national magazine design writer, and been shocked by their lack of knowledge on the subject of furniture- then this book is for them. Gift-wrapped.
Witty and anecdotal, “Chairs: A History” by Florence de Dampierre takes the reader through the history of the chair in a painless and highly entertaining fashion. Early Egyptian chairs- and I do mean early- look quite modern despite being nearly four thousand years old. And who knew that there was a thousand-year gap in innovative chair design between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance? “Either stools or thrones,” explains de Dampierre, “there was little inbetween.”

Chairs are more than convenient resting-places, they come with many associations. De Dampierre explains the hierachy of sitting down as an issue fraught with social complications. For example, in seventeenth century France, Louis XIV forbad anyone to sit in his presence without his permission, unless they were his children or grandchildren, and even then only on stools. The right to certain types of seating became so important that during a memorial mass for the same king in 1717, the attending bishops stormed out of the cathedral of Saint-Denis when they were refused kneeling cushions or carreaux.

De Dampierre takes each important design period in the history of the chair and discusses it in depth. For example, she traces the evolution of the Gothic chair from Strawberry Hill in England in the eighteenth century, to France, Germany, then eventually to America where walnut versions were made for the White House in 1846.
Grotto chairs were also the rage in the eighteenth century, the first recorded designer was Thomas Chippendale in England.
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