Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Former Bauhaus student Marcel Breuer designed the first version of this chair in 1925, the year he was appointed master of the school’s cabinet-making workshop. Inspired by the curved handlebars of his bicycle, Breuer had begun to explore tubular steel as a material suited to both modern furniture design and industrial production. Radically updating the old form of the upholstered club chair, Breuer created a light and visually transparent composition of intersecting lines and planes that evokes abstract geometric sculpture. The popularity of his metal furniture led Breuer to establish his own firm, Standard Möbel, which in 1929 was purchased by Thonet, the manufacturer of this chair. The original Eisengarn (iron yarn) fabric panels are now lost and have been replaced with a modern version of the sturdy, functional material. Samples of the original fabrics produced in the Bauhaus textile workshop can be found in the museums’ collections.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Marcel Breuer, American (Pecs, Hungary 1902 - 1981 New York, N.Y., USA)
Manufactured by Thonet, Inc.
Club Chair (B3)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: "Wassily Chair"
Work Type
designed 1925, manufactured 1929-1932
Creation Place: Europe, Germany
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3610, University Teaching Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Nickel-plated steel tubing and modern canvas
75.5 x 76.2 x 68 cm (29 3/4 x 30 x 26 3/4 in.)
steel tube diameter: 2 cm (13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: left edge, lower back fabric panel, white chalk, handwritten: RM
[Thonet] sold; to private collector (c. 1932-1948) gift; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Anonymous gift
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 48, ill.

Exhibition History

From Werkbund to Bauhaus: Art and Design in Germany 1900-1934, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/12/1980 - 04/26/1980

A Tribute to Walter Gropius, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/16/1983 - 07/01/1983

HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture [Spring 2009], Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/12/2009 - 05/10/2009

HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture (Spring 2010), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/05/2010 - 05/09/2010

32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 12/10/2018

The Bauhaus and Harvard, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/08/2019 - 07/28/2019

Artisanal Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/28/2023 - 05/07/2023

Subjects and Contexts

The Bauhaus

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