This Spanish Baroque, late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century walnut settee has a “triple-chair-back” design, with the center back panel higher than other two. Each back panel is shaped as a so-called “Moorish” arch, a horseshoe-shaped arch that was a vestige of Arab design influence in Spain and a design unique to Spain’s Baroque furniture. The block-and-baluster turned legs, each with disc and ball motifs, the affronted foliate-carved, S-shaped or “Flemish” scroll designs of the front stretchers, and the ball-shaped or “Flemish” feet all suggest a further stylistic interaction between Spain and its Seventeen Provinces (approximately the area of present-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) where these details were popular in the later seventeenth century. The back, which is made up of three horizontally-laid boards, is braced by wrought iron straps as well as more recent wood bracing. The seat and the public side of the back are upholstered in contemporary and possibly original late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century gold cut velvet with period gimp and oval tacks. The upholstery textile is a broderie velvet, i.e. a cut velvet where the pattern—in this case a large blossom within a curvilinear lattice of leaves, flowers, and C scrolls—is formed from the uncut velvet and the background is cut away. That the upholstery may be original to the piece is suggested by the fact that the settee maker has skillfully manipulated the shapes of the Moorish arches to coincide with the design of the velvet.
Purchased from P. W. French & Co., New York, New York (inv. no. 23476) by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 4/26/1922.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 4/26/1922-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.