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What Is a Courting Chair?

Audrey Pannell

Courting chairs are not very common as far as modern furnishings go, but some companies still manufacture and sell the chairs in modern styles. Beyond that, there's the possibility of acquiring a courting chair at an antique store, or perhaps one has been passed down the family line. Being a style different from today's traditional seats, it can make for an interesting conversation piece.

Courting Chair History

Look for one-of-a-kind courting chairs at antique stores.

A courting chair is basically an old-style love seat. It was introduced in the second half of the seventeeth century and was popular in the Baroque period. The chair is also referred to as a "conversation chair" and a "tete-a-tete" chair. "Tete-a-tete" means "face-to-face" in French, thus implying that any two people sitting in the chair can enjoy an intimate, face-to-face conversation. The chair creates a small, intimate seating area for two people to converse. The word "courting" was used to imply that a man could "court" a woman as they enjoyed conversing together in the seat.

Courting Chair Architecture

The courting chair is basically a double-chair created by conjoining two chairs together. Courting chairs were often made of carved wood with upholstered backs and seats. The conjoined seats are facing each other and create a small, S-shape sofa.

Physical Boundaries

A courting chair is formed in a way that allows two people to sit extremely close together without actually touching. The two chairs are only separated by an arm rest, which is shared by each seat.

Modern Courting Chairs

Some modern reproductions of the S-shaped sofas are still produced, but for the most part they have evolved into love seats. Love seats are small, upholstered couches with a large seat and loose cushion, with no armrest separation in the middle. Most people place the love seat in a living room or small den, setting it adjacent to a larger couch.