We as a nation are a classless society. We follow the British royal tabloids for vicarious pleasure, but embrace the ideal that all men are created equal. The Windsor chair as we know it was developed somewhere in England, possibly Windsor, around 1725. America embraced this form, as we are less about formality and more about comfort.
You can almost imagine George and Martha Washington sitting in these chairs in the afternoon with the family watching the Potomac flow by. They were our first royal family, receiving dignitaries and guests on their 8000 acre estate.
I have been to Mount Vernon twice and continue to be amazed at the colors used in the interiors. The moneyed public at the time was traveling to Herculaneum and Pompeii and reviving the colors found in the renovated ruins. They were influenced by the latest fashion, just as we pickup fashions from our travels. When I teach my continuing education course for Interior Designers on American Antiques, one of my true/false test questions states that “George Washington furnished his home with priceless antiques.” About 50% of the students find the statement true. The home was actually furnished with the latest in fashion at the time – cutting edge materials and styles. And they ordered most of it from catalogs, such as Thomas Chippendale’s “Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director”. Local cabinetmakers clustered on the coast where mahogany came in as ballast on the ships. They used Chippendale’s catalogs to inspire their clients to commission the latest “contemporary furnishings”.
Our delivery of style has changed over time, but this classic chair has retained its original form. The more things change, the more things stay the same.