Chairs in Literature (& other art)
April 30, 2017 10:23 AM   Subscribe

My wife has a project in her MFA coursework where she needs to reference chairs in literature and art. What are some famous chairs in literature and art?

She is especially looking for chairs in literature. She has the Goldilocks chairs, but that's about it. There must be others, right?
posted by crapples to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The scary birthing chair in The Handmaid's Tale, which hold both the woman giving birth and the higher-status woman who pantomimes doing so.
posted by mochapickle at 10:29 AM on April 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

The throne in Game of Thrones is supposed to be made for just out of sorts after the end of some big conflict. Sorry it's been a while since I read them.
posted by tilde at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

The kings chair?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:34 AM on April 30, 2017

The Twelve Chairs?
posted by basalganglia at 10:34 AM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Sofa: A Moral Tale
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 10:36 AM on April 30, 2017

If a ducking stool counts, there is one in Precious Bane.
posted by gudrun at 10:42 AM on April 30, 2017

Oh! Edward Gorey, The Curious Sofa
posted by mochapickle at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, forgot to add The Silver Chair (one of the Narnia books).
posted by gudrun at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

A chair plays a key role in Iain M. Banks' Use of Weapons.
posted by neushoorn at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ionesco, "The Chairs"
posted by thelonius at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

In Madame Bovary, Emma sits in the chair by the window every day, to watch life pass, and also to see Leon, who never turns his head to return the gaze, even though he is familiar with the house. There's actually a fair amount of chair action in Bovary.

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, in Alice in Wonderland, where everyone has to change seats, to change perspective.

Of course, The Twelve Chairs, both the original Russian satire, and then Mel Brook's satire of satire.

The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco is a pinnacle of the absurdist moment during the French existential period.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I'll scan the spines in the library and see if it triggers any other memories.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:50 AM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Very early representations of Christianity are symbolized by an empty chair, as a reference to the return.

Joseph Beuys, Fat Chair So relevant for today's existential dilemma.
posted by effluvia at 10:55 AM on April 30, 2017

The Siege Perilous.
posted by verstegan at 10:57 AM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Witold Rybczynski's Now I Sit Me Down got a lot of buzz when it came out last year; it might have some interesting leads.
posted by pinkacademic at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2017

Van Gogh's painting of a Chair
posted by gt2 at 11:01 AM on April 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Bernini's throne of saint Peter in the vatican...sort of the idea of 'chair' taken to an illogical extreme (you might want to google for additional pictures/'s...elaborate)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:06 AM on April 30, 2017

Is a 35 year old Caldecott Honor Book considered a classic? A Chair For My Mother
posted by NoraCharles at 11:15 AM on April 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Stone of Scone
posted by effluvia at 11:23 AM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

there was a LOT of story revolving around "Old Sparky" in Stephen King's "The Green Mile".
posted by alchemist at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2017

William Morris was an author (and also a designer) who adapted the design for a chair.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:30 AM on April 30, 2017

You don't see much of it, but the chair plays a key role in Whistler's Mother.
posted by argonauta at 11:41 AM on April 30, 2017

Do other kinds of seats count? Ottomans, benches, stools...tuffets? Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Along came a spider who sat down beside her and frightened Miss Muffet away.
posted by scratch at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2017

There's the Tenniel chair from Through the Looking Glass.

There's a fair amount of yack about various chairs in Heidi.

If sofas are fair game, in one of the endless Oz spinoffs they tie two sofas together and magicdust them and it becomes a fantastical animal with the power of flight and you can ride in it. I think it was a Gump, or something like that. If you ask me, Baum was a hack compared to Lewis Carroll.

Colin's wheelchair in The Secret Garden. Man, I read a lot of inspirational "nature cures affliction" crap as a whelp.

I think somebody expires in a La-Z-Boy in Infinite Jest.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:49 AM on April 30, 2017

The bench in the novel Forrest Gump (yep it was a book first).

Sweeney Todd's barber chair.
posted by the webmistress at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a great scene of the heroine getting stuck to a chair in Milton's Comus.
posted by Bardolph at 12:16 PM on April 30, 2017

The Wishing Chair
posted by KateViolet at 12:49 PM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Rocking chair in Sister Carrie
posted by Ideefixe at 1:11 PM on April 30, 2017

George Strait "The Chair." (songwriters Dean Dillon and Hank Cochran)
posted by spitbull at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2017

Time Magazine's cover picture of Trump vs. Hitler.
posted by porpoise at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2017

The sofa in the attic in Little Women where Jo writes.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:12 PM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

The wing chair in Thomas Bernhard's Wood Cutters.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 5:55 PM on April 30, 2017

Response by poster: Wow! What an amazing list. She is reading it now and is blown away. Thank you all!
posted by crapples at 7:09 PM on April 30, 2017

Sorry to do this, as it is not exactly art, but no list of chairs is complete without the chair-on-chair action in Roof Sex. NSFW.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

ahem ahem the iron throne in the Song of Ice & Fire books is a throne made of the melted-down swords of all the lords and knights who fought against the dragon-riding conqueror who beat them all and founded a dynasty. Lest the symbolism be lost on anyone, it's explicitly discussed how the thing is awful, spiky and sharp and hurty and that one king in particular was prone to cut himself on it all the time.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:10 PM on April 30, 2017

art: the impressionists painted hella chairs.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:12 PM on April 30, 2017

what about fainting couches.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:13 PM on April 30, 2017

Does Tiny Tim's little stool count?
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 4:25 AM on May 1, 2017

A Fan's Notes, by Frederick Exley, includes a chapter called "Journey On A Davenport"
posted by newmoistness at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2017

Also, in the realm of art, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly is a pretty amazing chair-based work:
posted by newmoistness at 11:50 AM on May 1, 2017

In A Clockwork Orange, the "chair of torture" in which Alex is restrained during his "Reclamation Treatment".
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 12:31 PM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

There's an Italo Calvino story called "A King Listens" in the volume "Under the Jaguar Sun" in which a throne is an allegory for power and is described in absurd detail.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:16 PM on May 1, 2017

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