Friday, November 28, 2014

Frances Elkins: Chic Chaises

The 'loop' chair attributed to Frances Elkins.
Two pairs sold at auction in 2009 for $5,938 each pair.
Sotheby's photo via The Magazine Antiques.
As mentioned in the previous post of The Devoted Classicist, here, the "loop" chairs from the collection of Bunny Mellon purchased from Mallet had provided inspiration for the noted twentieth-century decorator Frances Elkins to design her own version.  
Frances Elkins' inspiration:
the 1760s chairs as they appeared in
Image via The Magazine Antiques.
Francis Elkins was the sister of noted architect David Adler, but a noted interior decorator in her own right.  Although she completed stylish projects on her own, Elkins' most recognized commissions might be those fifteen collaborations with her brother where the architecture and interior design blended with ideal harmony. 

Frances Elkins' chairs in the Living Room
of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Wheeler, Lake Forest, Illinois.
Ezra Stoller photo, 1934, via The Magazine Antiques.
The work of Frances Elkins came to be appreciated by a new generation with the monograph of David Adler that was published in 1970.  The Living Porch of the Muttontown, Long Island, New York home of Evelyn Marshall Field was published in the August, 1936 issue of "Vogue."  But it was not until Stephen Salny's much-admired book FRANCES ELKINS: INTERIOR DESIGN was published in 2005 that revived interest really took off.

Garden versions of the 'loop' chair in iron.
" . . from a home on Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, IL."
Formerly offered (sold) by Antiques on Old Plank Road.
Image via 1st Dibs.
Descriptions of the early versions of the chairs made for Elkins state they had a dipped or saddle seat like the antique models she undoubtedly had seen published in A HISTORY OFENGLISH FURNITURE . . or DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH FURNITURE . .  (These were the chairs that eventually ended up in the collection of Bunny Mellon, sold at auction last week).  Elkins' early versions also had a caned seat, also adding to visual lightness.  Later versions of the chair have been made, and continue to made today by various sources with adaptations to make them feasible for a more standardized fabrication and more sturdy for everyday use.

The late Albert Hadley's Dining/Sitting Room
in Naples, FL, photographed by Fernando Benoechea.
"Albert Hadley in Naples, Florida"
More can be read about Frances Elkins' chair, dubbed the "It" chair by "The Magazine Antiques," in a January, 2009, article by Shax Reigler and another in February, 2009; the second article mentions that the antique chairs from the collection of Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Tree were copied by Frederick Victoria & Son.  Also, an essay on the subject appeared in the blog of  Emily Evans Eerdmans.


  1. Fascinating to have the evolution of that chair design laid out for us in this manner. And to be shown the unexpected--in this instance, the garden versions in metal, by Frances Elkins, with presumably metal "caning" for the seats! That was a treat.

  2. It is such a chic design, John. I love the iron Garden versions of the "Loop" chair by Elkins.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend!
    The Arts by Karena


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