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Klismos chair

Ancient Greek chair form characterized by a broad top rail and curved back (stiles and legs).

Revived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Light, elegant chair developed by the ancient Greeks. Perfected by the 5th century BC and popular throughout the 4th century BC, the had four curving, splayed ("saber") legs and curved back rails with a narrow concave backrest between them.

Often illustrated on Greek pottery, the design was resurrected in the French Directoire, Empire, English Regency, and Duncan Phyfe styles. Most klismos chairs have flaring saber legs placed in oppostion to one another (as opposed to the illustration above which has only two rear saber legs).

No original Greek chairs survived into modern times. However, the Greeks left a rich history of sculpture and paintings depicting the chair. One of the most famous sculptures depicting the is the Stele of Hegeso located in Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens, Greece. Hegeso is seen lounging comfortably in a that perfectly conforms to her back.

The might have faded into history were it not for the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid-18th century. The discovery of Greek and Roman ruins sparked the Neoclassical revival in Europe.


The shape was made popular in America by Duncan Phyfe early in the nineteenth century.

The architectural equivalent of Empire style is Greek Revival.


Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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