University Museums

Title: Man of the North Wind
Name: Chair
Date: c. 1900
Medium: Wood
Country/Culture: possibly Swiss
Dimensions: 37 × 19 in. diameter (94 × 48.3 cm) Other (Floor to seat): 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
Classification: Furniture
Credit Line: Gift of Ann Munn McCormack. In the Farm House Museum Collection, Farm House Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: 85.11.1
More Information
This chair was part of a set of four chairs that represented the four winds. This one is believed to be the north wind because of the Nordic figure carved into the back of the chair.

This chair belonged to Charles Curtiss and appears in the 1907 photograph of the Curtiss Library at the Farm House. Mrs. McCormack purchased it at the sale of furniture when Charles Curtiss died in 1947.

The only known existing interior photograph of the house prior to 1910 shows this space as used by Dean Charles F. Curtiss in 1907, reflecting the tastes of a nineteenth century gentleman and college faculty member. The Iowa Agriculturalist magazine of 1907, featured the room in an article explaining the merits of a “well thought-out decorating plan for a pleasant and inviting room.” The black-and-white photograph has been used as an invaluable guide for the library’s restoration, and has led to acquisitions and gifts of pictured objects. The black lacquered oak armchair originally belonged to Dean Curtiss and was featured in the 1907 magazine photograph. Carved into the back of the chair is the Man of the North Wind, a mythological image representing the origin of the bitterly cold winds characteristic of northern Europe. Curtiss also decorated the library with a print of Daniel Webster which hung near the doorway above a bookcase. Webster was an internationally recognized nineteenth century British agriculturalist and remembered for an 1840 quote, “When tillage begins, the other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.”