Romulo Chanduví’s Work: A 21st Century Item Joins the CHS Collection

May 5, 2017 · Collections ·

Photograph by Gale Zucker

The CHS has accepted a beautiful piece of furniture with an interesting story into our collections. Crafted in 2009 by expert furniture maker Romulo Chanduví in his East Hartford studio, this 18th-century Spanish colonial style chair was designed as one of a pair for a long-time collector of Chanduví’s work. The chair is made from ash and oak, carved with floral and “barley twist” designs. The seat is filled with horsehair and covered with tapestry fabric. The wheels are antique bronze. This acquisition helps to diversify the CHS furniture holdings by adding a 21st-century piece created by an immigrant craftsman using the designs, techniques, and historical aesthetics of his native land.

Romulo Chanduví came to the U.S. from Peru in 1992 and established a successful woodworking and furniture restoration business in East Hartford after receiving his green card as an “artist of exceptional merit.” His clients include several high-profile collectors in the Northeast, one of whom commissioned him to build custom cases for the Sullivan Collection of 18th-century porcelain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Chanduví also creates traditional woodcarvings in the Spanish/Inca style.

He began learning the art of woodcarving and fine furniture-making at the age of twelve, growing up in Lima, Peru. He absorbed the techniques and styles of carving passed down in his family’s carpentry shop for generations and served apprenticeships in workshops in Argentina and Switzerland. Chanduví began his professional career teaching furniture-making in the AID Program of the United Nations, helping soldiers acquire a trade after their military service. He continued advanced training with master woodworkers, learning to work with tropical woods while practicing his artistic skills in Panama.

Chanduví’s Charles Street workshop walls are covered with carefully-arranged tools, vises, drills, and hundreds of chisels that he has modified for use in hand-carving intricate details as well as to fashion exotic woods into extraordinary pieces of furniture. Each piece is built with authentic joining techniques of the appropriate period and is finished with all-natural stains, resins, bee waxes, shellacs, and varnishes.

Chanduví has been featured in several important presentations including the Institute for Community Research touring exhibit Living Legends: Connecticut Master Traditional Artists, the Wadsworth Atheneum’s installation of Faith and Fortune: Five Centuries of European Masterworks, the 2016 Connecticut Office of the Arts/CHS exhibit Connecticut Traditional Artists and Their Communities, and in a feature article in Home Living Connecticut magazine. Chanduví’s son Jonathan carries on the family tradition in restoration through his own New York City studio.

The chair is available to view by appointment at the CHS by calling (860) 236-5621 x230 or by email at research@chs.org.

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