Peacock Chair: The Favorite Wicker Chair of 60s & 70s Hollywood

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Milica Sterjova
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Wicker furniture was quite popular in the Victorian era. It is an old technique used to manufacture furniture and it has been around for thousands of years.

It dates as far back as ancient Egypt where wicker items like baskets or chests were used daily people’s homes. By the 16th century wicker was very common in European countries such as Spain, Portugal or England.

Old Paint Victorian Wicker Chair – Green – Circa 1900 Photo credit

Wicker received a major boost once the Age of Exploration began. Traders came back to Europe with a new material called rattan. Rattan is a species of palm that grows in southeast Asia and it is more durable than the materials used by the Europeans.

European traders started importing rattan and using it instead of their traditional materials. In the 19th century wicker furniture arrived in the United States where it was rapidly mass-produced. Wicker furniture was more comfortable and easier to maintain than wooden furniture.

Also, the wicker furniture was considered exotic given the tropical origin of the rattan and the use of wicker furniture back east.

Huey P. Newton, a famous political activist seated in wicker Peacock chair, 1967 Photo credit

Along with the material Europeans might have brought some furniture designs from Asia. There is a variety of designs for wicker chairs but one was especially popular in Hollywood – the famous Peacock chair. It is said that it originated in the Philippines and was later introduced in Europe.

After a huge decline in popularity, wicker furniture, especially the Peacock chair, had a brief revival in the 1960s and 1970s. This throne-like chair, sometimes with detailed ornamented massive back, made it’s way in celebrities homes and was very often part of their photo shootings.

Dramatic publicity shot of actress Norma Talmadge seated in a large wicker Peacock chair

The chair’s base is usually shaped as an hourglass. The very high back is what gave it the name. It resembles the spread tail of a peacock in all it’s splendor. So it isn’t a coincidence that various celebrities, rock stars, pop stars and movie stars loved the Peacock chair.

There is a long list of celebrities photographed sitting in a Peacock Chair including Brigitte Bardot, Elisabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Diana Ross and many more. Musicians like James Brown, Al Di Meola and Julio Iglesias were photographed in the chair for their album covers.

Truman Capote in 1959

The Peacock chair is often linked to The Addams Family, the famous television series from the 1960s. Morticia Addams had one so it’s not uncommon for the chair to be recognized as „Morticia Addams Chair“. Another film which also contributed to the popularity of the chair was the french erotic film “Emmanuelle” from 1974. This is why in France the chair is referred to as the “Emmanuelle chair”.

The main cast of the Addams Family, 1964

 

A modern living room with two Peacock chairs Photo credit

The chair has experienced a major revival in the last few years. It is suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Today it isn’t strictly made of rattan, other materials like plastic or reed are also used. It is definitely a cool item to own.