Mahogany Green Man Chair, ca. 1890

Value (2008) | $3,000 Auction

It belonged to my aunt who lived in Highland Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago, and this was in their study. And they used to have me sleep in that room and I was terrified of this chair. I remember insisting that they either removed it from the room or that they covered it up.

How old were you about?

I was about five or six, and it just terrified me.

Okay, I understand that.

They used to call it the man chair. And the only thing I heard about it, and it's more of a family myth than anything else, was that my grandfather-- my mother's father-- won it in a poker game in Chicago and that it came out of a bordello.

Okay, okay.

So that's the only thing, and whether or not that's true, I don't know.

Well, this comes under the umbrella, this chair, of fantasy furniture. Fantasy furniture is really when a traditional furniture maker departs from the normal chairs that they're making or furniture they're making and creates something that's otherworldly, that's purely fantasy. And this man, this mask in the back, has roots centuries ago in history. We call it the Green Man. And this chair, which is late 19th century, actually is green. That's the original green paint. This mask we see in Europe on churches, on medieval castles, you'll see these keystones. What it really represents or symbolizes, this Green Man, has always symbolized rebirth, life, regeneration and nature. And we usually see this mask on beds, on sofas. We'll see this mask... but never... I've never seen the whole body of the Green Man. This has the knuckles. Look at these little cuffs. Incredible. Look at these hands. Feel that, when you hold it, it sort of gives you the chills a little bit.


It's actually very nice, but you can actually feel the fingernails, like a real person. These branch-like, twisting, almost like they're growing, vines supporting the legs-- very Art Nouveau in influence. Now, the great thing about this, if we can turn this over, if you can help me, look on the bottom, there's this little label here, and it says, "The Harry J. Dean Co., special furniture," and then "Detroit." So we know it was made in America. This was made in about 1890. The great thing is, look at that original paint, all the green, and look at these feet.

What kind of wood is it?

That's actually mahogany. I'd put a value on this at probably, for fair market value purposes, right in the range of $3,000.


Appraisal Details

Leslie Keno Art Advisory
Waccabuc, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$3,000 Auction
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)

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