The Chesterfield Sofa
|4th Earl of Chesterfield|
It is said the 4th Earl of Chesterfield was the first person to commission a leather settee of the type we now know as a Chesterfield sofa. He was a patron of Voltaire, an accomplished writer and a trend-setter in his own time. Despite his tendency for progressive thinking, it is unlikely that he ever guessed one of the most appreciated aspects of his legacy would be his sitting couch. The Earl desired a seat which would allow him to remain comfortably upright without risk of wrinkling his clothes. A wide and low-set armchair with rolling arms and leather upholstery secured by deep buttons was the design he chose.
At his death, those who inherited the seat were so impressed with it that they set about making replicas. Today, the historic style has proliferated to a large extent. In Canada and parts of northern California the word “Chesterfield” is still understood to mean "sofa."
The original Chesterfield began as an aristocrat’s armchair but, with the coming of the modern era, enjoyment of the design has expanded tremendously. It is now found inside homes and businesses anywhere, from living rooms and libraries to law offices and billiard lounges.
This high-backed sitting couch still evokes images of groomed men in sport coats or of tactful ladies in long skirts and ornate hats. It has endured with timeless dignity and practicality, and is still considered that most typically English of sofas.