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Banjo Chair

ca. 1875 Unidentified turned, inlaid, painted, stained, and varnished wood 41 x 15 3/8 x 20 5/8 in. (104.2 x 39.1 x 52.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.73 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 25A

Luce Center Label

An unknown artist probably made this piece for a minstrel show during the late nineteenth century. Minstrel shows were hugely popular, and the instruments, especially the banjo, often appeared as decorative furniture, clocks, and wall hangings. The artist created Banjo Chair by fixing brackets around the seat, carving the seat back to resemble a peghead, and inlaying thin strips of wood to represent the strings. (Lynda Hartigan, Made with Passion, 1990)


Object - musical instrument - banjo

decorative arts - furniture

folk art