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Heckscher M. H. American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles. — New York, 1985

American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher  American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher
 
 

American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher. — New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985. — 383 p., ill. — ISBN 0-87099-427-1

 
 
Here at last is the publication that documents The Metropolitan Museum of Art's superlative collection of late colonial furniture. This comprehensive catalogue—prodigiously researched and gloriously illustrated—presents 213 of the finest objects in the Museum's American Wing. These masterpieces of eighteenth-century furniture are fully described and considered in light of comparative pieces from collections across the country. For every object the author gives detailed information about provenance, construction, condition, inscriptions if any, dimensions, and materials. The volume will stand as the quintessential sourcebook for collectors and a tour de force of scholarship in the field. In his foreword, Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan, says: "The Museum's highest priority is to communicate fully and exhaustively what is known about its collections in catalogues such as the present one. The first of three volumes covering the entire field of American furniture, it is devoted to the achievements of American cabinet- and chairmakers in the mid-eighteenth century, and in it curator Morrison Heckscher is able to furnish not only both a synoptic and detailed account of the period, but also invaluable information on methods of manufacture and on stylistic considerations, since his points of departure are the objects themselves, ultimately the most direct and secure evidence from which accurate conclusions can be drawn." The catalogue contains an appendix of photographic details, a complete bibliography, and indexes.
 

 

FOREWORD

 
With the inauguration of the new American Wing in May of 1980, space was at last provided for the proper display of the Metropolitan’s comprehensive collections of American art. To accommodate the Museum’s extensive and superior collections in the decorative arts, former period settings have been refurbished, new rooms opened, and several galleries installed. These follow the evolution of and focus on the finest moments and loci of American cabinet work from the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth.
 
Soon, with the completion of the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art on the mezzanine of the American Wing, all the Museum’s permanent holdings will be on view in both primary and study galleries, and, through direct contact with the originals themselves, the lay visitor and student alike will be able to enjoy the quality of workmanship and design in all the American decorative arts, the furniture in particular. This appreciation will be considerably enhanced, and critical assessments facilitated, by the rare opportunity to view the Museum’s holdings not only piece by piece but in the aggregate as well. As such, as a carefully ordered and articulated physical entity, the holdings reflect in their installation and labeling the most up-to-date scholarship and discriminating judgment on the part of the curators who care for them.
 
Now, clearly, the Museum’s highest priority is to communicate fully and exhaustively what is known about its collections in catalogues such as the present one. The first of three volumes covering the entire field of American furniture, it is devoted to the achievements of American cabinet- and chairmakers in the mid-eighteenth century, and in it curator Morrison Heckscher is able to furnish not only both a synoptic and detailed account of the period but also invaluable information on methods of manufacture and on stylistic considerations, since his points of departure are the objects themselves, ultimately the most direct and secure evidence from which accurate conclusions can be drawn.
 
For the realization of Morrison Heckscher’s catalogue, specifically for his extensive research and for the photography, we are deeply indebted to Mr. and Mrs. George M. Kaufman, themselves distinguished collectors of American furniture, for without their generous support this volume could not have been produced.
 
Philippe de Montebello
Director
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 

 

PREFACE

 
The American Wing, the result of the pioneering vision of such men as Robert W. de Forest, Henry Watson Kent, H. Eugene Bolles, and George S. Palmer, has from its conception and first days of existence focused attention on the finest American furniture of the colonial and early republican periods. The Museum’s holdings in these treasures, probably the earliest of the many remarkable public collections of American furniture, are surely one of the greatest glories not just of the American Wing but of the entire Metropolitan Museum. Beginning with the acquisition of the Bolles collection, made possible in 1910 by the generosity of Mrs. Russell Sage, and augmented by many subsequent gifts and purchases, the core of the Museum’s collection was in place by the time the original American Wing opened in 1924. Since then, the Museum has been able to expand its holdings through continuing gifts and acquisitions, fulfilling the purpose for which the Wing was intended. As expressed in an address by its founder, Robert de Forest: “The reason for opening our American Wing with this degree of formality ... is because for the first time an American museum is giving a prominent place to American domestic art and exhibiting it in such a way as to show its historical development.” The Wing’s immediate success and its long enjoyment of public recognition and attendance prove the wisdom of that farsighted decision.
 
Because of the inevitable constraints of space even within the enlarged Wing, reopened in 1980, the growing collection, constantly being added to, developed, and refined, has never before been presented in its entirety. Though most of it—certainly the cream of it—has been on continuous display, some of the major pieces, placed among many other objects in period rooms, cannot be examined as easily as they can be described; some pieces are on loan at other institutions; still others are in storage. Our strong desire is therefore to present through this and subsequent publications all acknowledged and illustrious objects in the Museum’s collection.
 
That several catalogues are forthcoming is not to say that American furniture has been overlooked in past Metropolitan publications. Innumerable articles have appeared in the Museum Bulletin; a survey of American furniture was contained in the 1924 Handbook of the American Wing and its six revised editions published from 1925 to 1948; and other books on the subject have included The American High Chest (1930) and American Chippendale Furniture (1942). In addition to books on colonial furniture drawing heavily on the Museum’s holdings for illustrations—Marshall B. Davidson’s American History of Colonial Antiques (1967) and Marvin Schwartz’s American Furniture of the Colonial Period (1976), to name but two—exhibitions of special facets of American furniture mounted at the Museum have been accompanied by detailed, illustrated catalogues such as In Quest of Comfort (1971), The Art of Joinery (1972), and Baltimore Federal Furniture (1972).
 
The need for the planned series of catalogues is nevertheless obvious. The books in the series will be arranged more or less chronologically, according to style: Volume I, with the furniture of the seventeenth century and in the William and Mary style (1630—1725); Volume II (the present book), the Queen Anne and Chippendale styles (1730—1790); Volume III, the Federal or neoclassical styles (1790—1825). A subsequent volume or volumes on the later nineteenth-century collection still in the process of formation is contemplated. We are pleased to present this, the first; we look forward to the publication of those to follow.
 
John K. Howat
The Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the Departments of American Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 

 

Contents

 
Foreword.. 9
Preface.. 11
Acknowledgments.. 13
Notes on the Catalogue.. 15
 
Introduction.. 17
 
The Catalogue
 
I. Seating and Sleeping Furniture
1. New England Chairs.. 35
2. New York Chairs.. 60
3. Pennsylvania Chairs.. 78
4. Stools, Couches, and Upholstered-back Chairs.. 111
5. Easy Chairs.. 120
6. Settees and Sofas.. 135
7. Cradle and Bedsteads.. 145
 
II. Tables, Stands, and Screens
8. Slab Tables.. 155
9. Card Tables.. 164
10. Dining Tables.. 177
11. Square Tea Tables.. 184
12. Round Tea Tables.. 190
13. Stands and Firescreens.. 201
 
III. Case Furniture
14. Bureau Tables, Chests, Chests-on-Chests.. 209
15. New England High Chests and Dressing Tables.. 231
16. Pennsylvania High Chests and Dressing Tables.. 249
17. Desks.. 263
18. Desks and Bookcases.. 273
19. Clocks.. 289
20. Miscellaneous Case Forms.. 312
 
IV. Frames
21. Looking Glasses.. 327
22. Picture Frames.. 330
 
Photographic Details.. 333
Short Titles and Abbreviations.. 367
Index.. 377
 

 

Sample pages

 
American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher  American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher
 
American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher  American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Vol. II. Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles / Morrison H. Heckscher
 

 

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