Luke Beckerdite

The articles in this volume of American Furniture span nearly three hundred years of furniture design, production, and use; nevertheless, they have many points in common. Robert Leath’s article on Jean Berger’s drawing book and Morrison Heckscher’s comprehensive annotated catalogue of English design books in eighteenth-century America deal with the dissemination of furniture styles and ornamental details. Luke Beckerdite’s article on architect-designed furniture in eighteenth-century Virginia, Sumpter Priddy and Martha Vick’s study of Clotworthy Stephenson, Henry Ingle, and William Hodgson, and Nina Gray’s profile of the life and work of Leon Marcotte explore the relationships between architecture and furniture design. Peter Kenny’s article on New York baroque tables and Robert Mussey and Ann Haley’s article on John Cogswell are rich contextual studies that show how European and English furniture forms were introduced into the colonies and modified to suit local tastes and craft traditions. Nancy Evan’s article on Windsor seating furniture documents historical methods of repair, modification, and alteration, whereas Susan Buck’s essay on the treatment of an important Ohio Masonic chair reveals how furniture conservation has benefited from recent scientific developments in the painting conservation field. The themes shared by these diverse articles underscore the importance of viewing American furniture as a continuum extending from historic antecedents in England and Europe to the present. 

The 1995 volume will be a special issue on regional diversity and innovation in American furniture. With several multidisciplinary articles focusing on furniture, craft, and regional identity, this volume will include both object-oriented and context-oriented scholarship and show how material culture is often a direct manifestation of the social, economic, and cultural patterns of a given region. As with other issues of American Furniture, we hope this one will help forge a link between social history, American studies, and the decorative arts.

American Furniture 1994