Design Glossary: Savonarola and Dante Chairs
After last week’s Retrospect post on curule stools, I kept seeing X-form chairs wherever I went (I think there’s an official diagnosis that goes along with this condition). But what was with all the nomenclature? Sometimes called Savonarola chairs, sometimes Dantesca chairs, Dante chairs, scissor chairs, etc. And then there are sedie a tenaglia, which look a lot like mid-century side chairs by the designer Harvey Probber. So here’s a brief glossary of all these overlapping terms.
Probber Chairs (above): Harvey Probber was a furniture designer during the mid-20th century. Best known for developing sectional sofas, he also designed this gorgeous update of the sedia a tenaglia that evokes the Renaissance without feeling a bit monkish.
As always, let me know if there are any other furniture types that need defining or differentiating!
1 A “Savonarola” Chair from Lombard, Italy, c. 1500 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
2 Italian “Dantesca” Chairs, c. 16th-17th century, via Christie’s
3 Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus (1601) shows a Savonarola chair in the left foreground. In the National Gallery, London, via the Web Gallery of Art
4 A monk copying a manuscript at a monastery library, via studenthandouts.com
5 A 1st-century grave stele via University of Minnesota
6 Sedie a tenaglia (1530) at the Palazzo Davanzati, Florence, via designboom
7 A set of dining chairs by Harvey Probber via Treadway Gallery
Related Apartment Therapy Links:
Quick History: The Curule Stool
Design Glossary: Chairs