The American Wing gets ready to soar

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2009 | When the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s renovated Greek and Roman galleries were inaugurated two years ago, critics acclaimed that majestic design by the architect Kevin Roche (1922–) as a crowning achievement of his career, and an equal triumph for the institution’s longtime director Philippe de Montebello, who soon afterward announced his retirement. Although Roche’s intervention deserved every …

The American Campeche chair

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2009 | On March 8, 1827, Joseph Coolidge (1798–1879), the husband of Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge (1796–1876), wrote to Nicholas P. Trist (1800–1874), another of Jefferson’s grandsons-in-law, regarding the distribution of the Monticello, Virginia, estate: “Ellen now desires me to say that if you can procure the Campeachy chair, with [Jefferson’s] initials, she wishes you to …

Kem Weber and the rise of modern design in Southern California

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2009 | In the fall of 1926 Barker Brothers, then the largest furniture retailer in the United States, opened a striking new shop on the fourth floor of its eleven-story building in downtown Los Angeles. The new “store-within-a-store,” christened “Modes and Manners,” was the brainchild of the young designer Kem Weber (Fig. 2). It was not only the first …

Japanned furniture: global objects in provincial America

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2009 |On a cold winter dawn in January 1701, trumpeters marched through the streets of Boston, waking the residents and proclaiming Samuel Sewall’s poem.1 Written by a devout Puritan who had inherited a mercantile fortune, the poem shows a global imagination at work—and perhaps at play too. It reminds us that the provincial society of early America was not …

Queries: Paper lined bed testers

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

Cybèle Gontar and Stephen Harrison are writing an article on paper-lined bed testers. Decorative wallpapers have traditionally been placed on walls, ceilings, and folding screens. Less commonly, wallpapers were also used to cover valances and ceilings of bedsteads in the late eighteenth century. Bed and window valances covered with paper were advertised by Francis Delorme, a French immigrant craftsman in …

The Worsham-Rockefeller rooms

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

In New York in the 1880s—the gilded age when the likes of the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, and the Goulds were building their mansions along and near Fifth Avenue—the new aesthetic style often reigned supreme as the choice for their grand interiors. Herter Brothers, Kimbel and Cabus, Pottier and Stymus, Leon Marcotte are just a few of the firms that catered …

Endnotes: April’s fool

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

Life with Cora Ginsburg was a perpetual trunk show. Six years after the dealer’s death in 2003, her protégée, Titi Halle, is still plumbing the depths of the inventory of rare costumes, textiles, and needlework she acquired when she purchased the Cora Ginsburg gallery in New York in 1997. One recent rediscovery is a man’s handsewn suit of heavy natural …

The Butterfly Man of New Orleans

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2008 | The armoire is the most significant form of colonial French furniture made in the Americas.1 In Louisiana, armoires were crafted by immigrant cabinetmakers from the first quarter of the eighteenth century and were frequently listed in estate inventories from as early as the 1740s.2 Details of the construction and style of a group of twenty important Louisiana …

Servitude and Splendor: The craftsmen and carved furniture of the Rappahannock River valley, 1740 to 1780

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

May 2008 | By 1740 a colonial elite of well-to-do merchants and landowning planters had emerged in Virginia. With riches from tobacco production supplemented by investments in the profitable iron industry, they were fully prepared to engage artisans and to  commission houses and furniture in the latest European styles that would express and solidify their economic status. This trend was …

Sleeping beauties

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

Beds recently offered at auction and antiques shows demonstrate a rich area of the decorative arts in which provenance and personal history is key. At the Bonhams New York sale of American furniture this past February, the top lot was a rare Herter Brothers bedstead that was made around 1872 for the master bedroom of Milton Slocum Latham’s Thurlow Lodge …