Category Archives: Furniture

Truths of the Trade: Collecting, Researching, and Exhibiting an Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World Cabinet

A mere shadow, faintly visible in raking light, is all that remains of the script that once spelled “Philadelphia” on the drawer front of Winterthur’s recently acquired double cabinet. This drawer may be blank, but gold painted letters still adorn … Continue reading

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A Winterthur Interview: Thomas Chippendale at 300

In celebration of the 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale’s birth, Winterthur Museum has organized an exhibit featuring its collection of rococo-inspired furniture, Thomas Chippendale’s publications, and related publications and objects influenced by Chippendale’s designs. Cecilia Aquino, Winterthur intern, sat down … Continue reading

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Southern Collecting in the Post−Civil War Era: A Case Study of Barbara Fritchie’s Desk-and-Bookcase

On November 21, 1885, Ariana Trail wrote to her son-in-law, Reverend John Harding,  with a tone of urgency, imploring him to send his wife, Nan, $18, “so that she can buy Barbara Frietchie’s secretary, a lovely antique genuine, & in … Continue reading

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The Remarkable Life and Career of a Free African-American Cabinetmaker

This mid-19th-century mahogany veneer dressing bureau, one of Winterthur’s newest furniture acquisitions, is a visually striking object with an even more striking history. Although the dresser conforms to popular urban furniture designs of its era (with its distinctive carved bracket … Continue reading

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Exotic Woods and International Trade

The objects in the upcoming Made in the Americas exhibition tell about global trade and how it inspired artistic traditions around the world (see our previous blog post, Globalism and Culturally Inspired Craftsmanship). Furniture crafted from exotic tropical hardwoods is … Continue reading

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The Time to Buy: Collecting American Antiques in 2016

I love Antiques Week. Every year, during the third week in January, collectors, curators, and dealers—indeed anyone with a passion for antiques—gather in New York for the Mardi Gras of Americana. The Winter Antiques Show attracts the rich, the famous, … Continue reading

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Influences from Abroad: Biedermeier Chairs in a New York Town House

Located within the Empire Parlor at Winterthur is a unique pair of side chairs. With distinctive double-balloon backs, incurvate stiles, and elegant scimitar legs, these chairs stand out from other pieces in the room.1 They are constructed primarily of mahogany and … Continue reading

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A Brittle Beauty

The centuries-old technique of lacquering (lacquer fragments have been unearthed from archeological sites in China dating to 5,000 BC) was, and still is, used to decorate furniture, teawares, dinner services, and architectural elements by coating them with multiple layers of … Continue reading

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New York Furniture and Its Diverse Beginnings

Settled by the Dutch and claimed by the English, New York, from the start, was “a Babel of peoples—Norwegians, Germans, Italians, Jews, Africans . . . Walloons, Bohemians, Munsees, Montauks, Mohawks, and many others,” writes author Russell Shorto. This early … Continue reading

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Craft & Commerce in the Early Delaware River Valley

The Delaware River flows 419 miles south from its source in the Catskill Mountains of New York to the Delaware Bay, just north of Cape May, New Jersey. A 1757 map by Thomas Kitchin illustrates the interconnectedness of the landscape … Continue reading

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