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Dining Chair, from the Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois

Designer
Frank Lloyd Wright, American, 1867–1959
Maker
probably John W. Ayers, American, 1850–1914
Date
designed c.1903
Material
Oak with replacement synthetic leather upholstery
Made in
Chicago, Illinois, United States, North and Central America
Classification
Furniture
Current Location
On View, Gallery 129
Dimensions
56 x 17 1/16 x 18 3/16 in. (142.2 x 43.4 x 46.2 cm)
Credit Line
Funds given by the Decorative Arts Society
Rights
© 2020 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Licensed by Artists Rights Society.
Object Number
239:1977
NOTES
The simple, elegant form of this chair does not depend on ornament or carving but on the rhythmic play of lines and shapes. Like all of Frank Lloyd Wright's furniture, it was intended to harmonize with the home for which it was designed. Its high back contrasted with the dining room's horizontal orientation and also served as a partition: when the six chairs were pulled up around the table, the dining ensemble became an intimate room within a larger space.
c.1903 -
Ward W. Willits (1859–1950), Highland Park, IL, USA, commissioned from Frank Lloyd Wright [1]

1940s (?) - 1961
Dr. and Mrs. Poser, Mary M. W. Adams' house, Highland Park, IL, purchased at sale of furnishings of the Willits' house [2]

1961 - 1977
Bernard Pyron, Madison, WI, purchased from Mrs. Poser [3]

1977 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Bernard Pyron [4]


Notes:
[1] Wright designed the house and furnishings for Ward W. Willits' Highland Park residence, at 1445 Sheridan Road, c.1901–03. There were originally six dining room chairs, as evidenced by period photographs [SLAM document files]. It is unclear when Ward W. Willits sold the home; at the time of his death in June 1950, he was no longer residing at this residence [see obituary, "Highland Park Press," June 29, 1950, p. 1; SLAM document files].

[2] Dr. and Mrs. Poser are listed in the provenance of another Wright chair designed for the Willits' house ["Important 20th Century Decorative Arts," Christie's, New York, December 7, 2001, lot no. 368.] Here, the Poser residence is identified as Frank Lloyd Wright's Mary M. W. Adams house, 1923 Lake Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois. Mrs. Poser told Bernard Pyron (who sold 239:1977 to the Saint Louis Art Museum) that she had purchased the chair (with its mates) at a sale of furnishings of the Willits house conducted by new (unnamed) owners [letter from Pyron to architect and appraiser, William [sic] Hasbrouck, September 26, 1977, SLAM document files]. It is possible that the sale to which Mrs. Poser referred occurred in the 1940s, based on the catalogue entry for another of Willits' dining room side chairs: "Bought by the present owner from occupants of the Willits' house in 1940s." ["Architectural Designs and Commissions including Arts & Crafts and Art Pottery," Christie's, New York, December 12, 1986, lot no. 167].

[3] Bernard Pyron purchased this chair (and three other dining room chairs) directly from Mrs. Poser. Pyron did not record specific dates or location of sale [see letter, Note [2]].

[4] Letter from Bernard Pyron to the Museum, dated October 20, 1977 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, December 14, 1977.
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