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Smithsonian Institution Collections

Banjo Chair

Banjo Chair
Smithsonian Museum
Smithsonian American Art Museum
An unknown artist probably made this piece for a minstrel show during the late nineteenth century. Minstrel shows were hugely popular, and the instruments, especially the banjo, often appeared as decorative furniture, clocks, and wall hangings. The artist created Banjo Chair by fixing brackets around the seat, carving the seat back to resemble a peghead, and inlaying thin strips of wood to represent the strings. (Lynda Hartigan, Made with Passion, 1990)
ca. 1875
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson
turned, inlaid, painted, stained, and varnished wood
41 x 15 3/8 x 20 5/8 in. (104.2 x 39.1 x 52.4 cm)
Decorative Arts-Furniture
Folk Art