This is a prayer chair (in French: Prie Dieu). When walking on the Grand Place in Brussels in 1969 with Daniele and my friend Ken Weinstein, we spotted a pile of “wood junk” on the plaza in front of the principle Belgian Cathedral St. Michael and St Gudula.
On inquiry we learned that they were throwing out these old chairs and putting in new ones. Most of the pile were broken chairs but we dug up a couple of intact ones. Ken and I each took one.
I think the chairs are from around 1900 and are a fairly simple design. The congregants would sit on them. When it was time to pray and kneel, the chairs would be rotated. The Bible would be placed on the broad top of the back. You can see how low the seat is which is about the right level for kneeling.
This chair has cane seating and is harder than many cushioned ones made for royalty and the wealthy.
(Editor’s note: Palisades resident Howard Yonet has an interesting collection of curios from around the world and with his permission, Circling the News is publishing one a week. About the collector: Dr. Howard Yonet was born in Brooklyn in 1934 and attended Brooklyn College. He went to Baylor Medical School and then returned to do an internship at Bellevue Hospital. Yonet completed his residency at the Manhattan V.A. and the Montefiore Hospital. During this time he went skiing in Vermont and the Catskills, and while traveling found barns filled with early American pieces. This led to his interest in American Antiques.
In 1965, he married Daniele, who was originally from Nancy, France. During the Vietnam War, Yonet was drafted as a medical officer and stationed in Landstuhl, Germany (1966-1969). This was close to the French border, which meant he and Daniele and could visit her family.
While abroad, the Yonets took weekend trips through France and Italy, purchasing many interesting pieces at flea markets.
The family settled in Pacific Palisades in 1970 and Yonet practiced general radiology until 2006. He continued to acquire antiques and collectables at estate and garage sales and the Salvation Army Store. He also enjoyed looking for collectibles while traveling in Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Massachusetts. Daniele’s family helped add to his collection.)