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My mother bought a 19th century Louis XVI-style chair at a Massachusetts auction in 1964, the year we moved into the Queen Anne Victorian that we called home. The chair was neglected in a 3rd floor attic room (except for play—it was a marvelous throne) for most of 50 years until ending up in my sister’s garage after my mother moved to smaller digs. For the last five years, on the second floor of my sister’s barn of a garage, the chair has waited with other odds and ends from the old house, with the dust and the mice and the embroidery.chair.totalcats who mysteriously found their way in for company. Despite the fact that its guts were hanging down between its legs and one of its arms rested on its lap, it was clearly a beautiful chair with perfect lines. I snagged it and brought it into my surgery.

The best thing about taking a chair apart is discovering how it was put together. This one still wore its original hand-embroidered canvases; to my surprise, such beautiful work was placed directly on top of a layer of straw. I removed the pieces carefully and hand-washed them in Woolite.

The pieces are too delicate to reuse but, of course, I’ll hold on to them. I’ll post pictures of the chair when I’ve finished with the repairs and re-upholstery. Here are some details of the embroidery:

Seat detail.

Seat detail. The center flower appears to be a daffodil, a symbol of spring; it might be two primroses, symbols of young love, below it on the same stem.

Front detail.

Front detail. The features of her face, done in petit point, have worn to the canvas. She appears to be wearing a crown of flowers. Perhaps she is the Roman goddess Flora.

Underside showing knots and finish work.

Underside showing knots and finish work.