The Chesterfield sofa conjures images of formally attired gentlemen sequestered in a dark paneled study, sipping brandy and smoking cigars surrounded by rustic furniture. Throughout history the Chesterfield sofa has come to represent many things to different people. The Victorian era saw the Chesterfield as the key piece in living rooms, where gentlemen relaxed while their wives sat in chairs crafting needlepoint. Since the 19th century,it has been linked with Freudian psychoanalysis, as Sigmund Freud originally used a sofa during his hypnosis sessions with patients. Flash forward two centuries and find yourself seated in a sumptuous red leather Chesterfield in a dark corner of a local coffeehouse or wine bar.
Throughout the years, Chesterfield sofas have graced the palaces of royalty, prominent business offices, hotels, restaurants, gentleman’s clubs and luxurious private homes. Today the Chesterfield is synonymous with elegance and class in interiors all over the world, of every architectural and decorating style. Regardless of what it represents to many, the Chesterfield steadfastly remains the sofa that embodies the perfect blend of comfort and sophistication. The Chesterfield sofa, however, has a somewhat uncertain history. This icon of the furniture world is widely thought to have been commissioned by, and consequently named in honor of, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, in the 18th century.
Aside from being a much-admired politician and writer, the suave Earl was a known trendsetter. When the Earl requested a cabinetmaker to construct a piece of furniture that would allow a gentleman to sit upright in the utmost of comfort, thus was the inception of the Chesterfield sofa with its characteristic deep buttoned upholstery, rolled arms, equal back and arm height and nail head trim. There has never been any solid confirmation of this noble beginning. However, this namesake is certainly appropriate. Stanhope was a noted writer of letters to his illegitimate son, extolling all method of manners and morals. The Chesterfield sofa is certainly a refined and mannerly example of seating.