National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Shaker Tilting Chair Shaker Tilting Chair
Rendered by John W. Kelleher (artist), c. 1937
watercolor and graphite on paper
overall: 30.5 x 25.5 cm (12 x 10 1/16 in.)
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Shaker Crafts from the Index of American Design
Object 7 of 17

Shaker simplicity is nowhere more evident than in chair design. Outwardly straightforward, each element of the design was carefully considered for greatest efficiency in use. This is a tilting chair named for the device attached to the back legs. A ball-and-socket joint was invented by the Shakers so that the chair could be tilted backward without having the legs scratch the floor or cause unnecessary wear of the rugs. Shaker chairs were famous for being light in weight yet sturdy. Because they were light they could be hung on the walls while the floors were being cleaned; their sturdiness provided durability over many years. The seat of this chair is made of cane. Caned chairs were uncommon except at the colony of Enfield, New Hampshire.

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