A Roman folding chair in iron for a commander in the field (sella castrensis), 2nd - 6th century
Works of Art, Antiquities | A80kua | Live auction | 852 Lots
The chair composed of two folding frames which are lavishly decorated with inlays of bronze and brass. The supporting sides of both frames and the upper edges have a rectangular profile, all other sides are of circular cross-section, thickening slightly around the hinge. On each side of the top, there are five ring fittings to accommodate a continuous, square iron bar to attach the (replacement leather) seat. Except for the supporting sides, the outer surfaces still bear remnants of the decorative brass inlays, with wave ornamentation, herringbone patterns and spirals. Intact with signs of age and corrosion. Excellent iron substance. Dimensions of the frame elements 40 x 63 cm. Seat height 48 cm.
An Augustean silver beaker from Boscoreale and a relief of the Arch of Constantine depict similar folding chairs being used as seats for the emperor and commander in field, which is why this type is also called sella castrensis. Although the Roman legionary camp at Carnuntum would suggest a military designation, comparable folding chairs have also been found in civilian contexts and in the graves of members of upper class Roman confederates in Late Antiquity. See the essay by Susanne Stöckl, Ein eiserner Klappstuhl der Völkerwanderungszeit im Landesmuseum Joanneum, Schild von Steier 20, 2007, pp. 27 - 42, on a similar chair on display in the Landesmuseum Joanneum Graz.
Provenance: Found near Carnuntum/Deutsch-Altenburg in the 1st half of the 20th century by a local farmer while working in the field. The finder passed it on to the local priest, who presented it to the consignor's grandfather in winter 1959/60 while he was repairing the church organ. Thereafter part of the family estate. With Austrian export license.