An “X-chair” is one of my personal favorites, a chair with an “X” frame, usually folding but not always, also known as a Dante Chair, Savonarola chair (both Italian), Luthor chair (Germany), or scissors chair. It is one of our earliest chairs; examples were found in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It was sometimes all carved wood, inlaid with ebony, ivory, and precious metals. Frequently nobility carved their coat of arms and other meaningful details; some forms have leather or fabric backs and slung seats. Loose cushions sometimes accompanied the chairs in order to make the seating more comfortable.
The bronze and gilded Throne of Dagobert is one of the earliest and most famous of the X-chairs, circa early 7th century. The legs are created from the heads of panthers (the proper name for the profiles is “protomes”.) The arms and triangular back are decorated with rosettes and foliage. From Wikipedia: “Dagobert I (c. 603 – 19 January 639) was the king of Austrasia (623–634), king of all the Franks (629–634), and king of Neustria and Burgundy (629–639). He was the last king of the Merovingian dynasty to wield any real royal power. Dagobert was the first of the Frankish kings buried in the royal tombs at Saint Denis Basilica.”
Variations of this chair have evolved around the world. One of my favorites is the Hehe Folding Chair, also called an “Acrobatic” chair, hailing from the Hehe tribe of Tanzania. It is often accompanied by a folding footstool. These were inspired by colonial camp chairs. The one above is from Colonial Arts, circa 1910.
During the Italian Renaissance the Dantesca chair became popular. It looks quite a bit like the X-chair, but it does not fold. Where the x-joint should move, it usually has a boss. Good examples are William Juxon’s Chair and Footstool from the VA Museum, and Georges Jacob’s chair from the Musée du Louvre. Both show bosses at the “X”.
It evolved into the Campaign chair, or the modern folding chair we take to the beach! Finally, I thought it nice to show two modern versions. One from Saint Thomasguild,
especially as they show their reproduction collapsed, and finished in furniture soap. The last is Harvey Probber’s design.
(BTW, I am a chair nut. If I had my way, I would have all chairs in my home, no sofas, with the exception of a large Oriental bed to curl into with my honey.)
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Thanks to Wikipedia, the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
and the Victoria and Albert Museum for images as noted.