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Museum Musings - "THE" Chair

Upon their first visit, nearly every visitor is surprised at the size of this museum and then stunned at the treasures they discover. One of the artifacts that inspires visitors is Mr. Madison's Campeche armchair, considered to be "The finest Campeche in Virginia"[1] by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was in this chair that Madison preferred to relax, read and visit with guests. Family lore is that the chair was sent to Madison as a gift from his good friend, Thomas Jefferson. Alas, there is, to date, no documentary proof.

The chair is noteworthy for the "ornate leather seat embossed with a stylized Spanish Habsburg double-headed eagle, string-inlaid crest rail, carved arms and finials, cabriole armrest supports, and curule construction."[2]

The chair was donated to the museum by Mrs. Dorothy Madison Mulick, a 7th generation descendant of the Madison family on August 21, 1978.

Provenance of Mr. Madison's Chair:

James Madison, Jr. John Payne Todd (Dolley Payne Todd Madison's sole surviving child) at Toddsberthe 1852 Sale of furnishings at Toddsberthe purchased by Colonel John Willis (grand-nephew of James Madison, Jr.) Ambrose Madison Willis (son of the Col.) Ella Maud Bagley Willis (Ambrose's wife) David Madison Willis (son of Ella/Ambrose) Dorothy Madison Mulick Lyons (cousin of David Madison Willis)

[1] Cybele Trione Gontar, "The Campeche Chair in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," Metropolitan Museum Journal 38, 2003. Pages 183-212.

[2] Ibid.

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