Sitting in Savannah: Telfair Chairs and Sofas

Telfair Academy & Owens-Thomas House March 9-October 27, 2013

This exhibition highlights Telfair Museums’ significant collection of seated forms. Originally from the collections of 19th-century Savannahians and other collectors, this exhibition will showcase chairs and sofas as both functional objects, as well as sculptural forms.

The Telfair’s furniture collection represents one of the museum’s strongest holdings. Within this category, objects created for seating indicate a variety of tastes with origins of construction mostly in the Northeastern United States, especially New York and Philadelphia.

Sitting in Savannah will be the first exhibition to feature this area of the collection since the 1995 exhibition Classical Savannah: Fine and Decorative Arts, 1800-1840. Unlike that show, which took an in-depth look at a variety of collections within a short period of time, this exhibit will only focus on one aspect of furniture—seating.

The Telfair Academy’s Drawing Room will serve as the hub of the show, but chairs and sofas will also be identified throughout the museum in all period rooms at the Academy and Owens-Thomas House. For example, the entire suite of the Telfair family’s Philadelphia-made curly maple furniture will be on view in the Owens-Thomas House Drawing Room. The set includes fifteen chairs, two Recamier sofas, and a center table. Created in the 1820s and likely housed in the Telfair mansion’s Drawing Room, this suite of furniture has not been on display in one room since the 1980s.

Other objects on view will include fancy chairs, klismos chairs, chairs with oak, rush and upholstered seating, as well as recent acquisitions never before seen on view, including a side chair, c. 1835, attributed to Anthony Gabriel Quervelle of Philadelphia, and an 1810 sofa by J. S. Taylor of New York.

Sponsored in part by the Telfair Academy Guild.


Related Programs

Director’s Circle Preview Reception
March 8 / 6 pm / TA
RSVP by March 1 to Catherine Renner at 912.790.8844 or

Lecture  by Ben Thompson, Curator of The Art of Seating, and Members’ Opening
March 8 / 7 pm / TA
Free for members or with museum admission. Sponsored by the Telfair Academy Guild.

Lecture by Tania Sammons: Sitting in Savannah
May 2 / 6 pm / TA

Free Admission Sponsored by the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs

The High Chairs: An Installation by Jessica Scott-Felder
April 26-July 8 | JC

Free Weekend at Telfair Academy: Art of Seating and Sitting in Savannah
May 2-4 | TA

Free Admission Sponsored by the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs

Performance by Jessica Scott-Felder
Saturday, May 4 | 6 pm | TA

Atlanta artist Jessica Scott-Felder will present a short performance at the Telfair Academy in conjunction with the Sitting in Savannah exhibition. Visitors will follow the artists as she moves from the Rotunda to the period rooms to the Sculpture gallery.

Free Admission Sponsored by the City of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs



Side Chair (Philadelphia), one of fifteen, c.1820-30. Bird’s eye maple, mahogany, poplar, pine, and oak; 29x 481/4 in.; Bequest of Mary Telfair.

Grecian Sofa (New York), c.1815-21; Mahogany, cane, and ormula; 29 x74 x 28 in.; Museum purchase 1906.6.