William N. Hosley
Regional Furniture/Regional Life

American Furniture 1995

Full Article
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Cover of Luke Vincent Lockwood’s Colonial Furniture in America (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901; photo, Gavin Ashworth). The first edition of this milestone publication featured cover art derived from the “Hartford chests” Lockwood so admired. A “Hadley chest” illustrates the title page, and the frontis features a highly stylized “Portsmouth” blockfront. Although the text is far from exclusive in its emphasis on regional styles, there has never been an American furniture survey that balanced the regional and the cosmopolitan more equally.

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Portrait of Homer Eaton Keyes, ca. 1925. (Courtesy, Antiques.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Frontis of Albert Sack’s Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1950). (Courtesy of Sack Heritage Group; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Governor’s Palace dining room as furnished ca. 1950. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Governor’s Palace dining room as furnished ca. 1980. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Furniture exhibit in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery, ca. 1988. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Connecticut Furniture, Wadsworth Atheneum, 1967. In addition to its role as a catalyst for the study of regional furniture, this exhibition was also the first to display furniture on high pedestals as “art.” John Kirk designed the installation.

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Portrait of Alice Winchester, ca. 1970. (Courtesy, Antiques.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Arts of the Pennsylvania Germans, Special Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Winterthur Museum, 1983. (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    American Rococo, 1750-1775: Elegance in Ornament, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jan. 26-May 17,1992. (Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, all rights reserved.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    The Great River, Wadsworth Atheneum, 1985. (Courtesy, Wadsworth Atheneum.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    China table attributed to Robert Harrold (fl. 1765-1792), Portsmouth, 1765–1775. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with maple and white pine. H. 28 5/8", W. 36 1/4", D. 22 7/16". (Courtesy, Carnegie Museum of Art; museum purchase, Richard King Mellon Foundation grant, acc. 72.55.2.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    East Windsor and Philadelphia compared: Left: Side chair, attributed to Eliphalet Chapin, East Windsor, Connecticut, ca. 1780. Cherry with pine. H. 38", W. 22 3/4", D. 18". Right: Side chair, Philadelphia, ca. 1755. Mahogany with pine. H. 40 1/4", W. 23 1/2", D. 18 1/2". (Courtesy, Wadsworth Atheneum; Hartford. Gift of Mrs. Gordon W. Russell [left]. Gift of Samuel P. Avery [right].) Eliphalet Chapin made “Philadelphia chairs” for a Connecticut market. They were related in proportions, construction, and form, but different in materials and decorative details.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Chest with drawers, probably Hadley, Massachusetts, 1695–1700. Maple with pine. H. 45 1/8", W. 43 1/2", D. 19 3/4". (Courtesy, Wadsworth Atheneum; Evelyn Bonar Storrs Trust Fund and gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, by exchange, acc. 1991.18.) This chest is presumed to be the earliest of several variants of the “Hadley chest” produced in the mid-Connecticut Valley between about 1685 and 1730. This example is the most similar to carved chests from the Wethersfield, Hartford, and Windsor vicinity and is believed to have been adapted by joiners from that area.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Desk-and-bookcase, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, ca. 1775. Cherry with pine. H. 82 3/4", W. 35 1/2", D. 19 3/4". (From the Collections of Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Door, circa 1750, from the Daniel Fowler house, Westfield, Massachusetts,. (Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1916. (16.147) Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Gravestone of Samuel Pease, possibly made by Ezra Stiles, Enfield, Connecticut, 1770. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Cupboard in the Dr. Alexander King House, attributed to Eliphalet King, Suffield, Connecticut, ca. 1764. (Courtesy, Suffield Historical Society.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Gravestone of John Thrall, carved by Phineas Newton, East Granby, Connecticut, 1791. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Gravestone of Mehetabel Smith, Hadley, Massachusetts, 1770. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Detail of the pilaster of a high chest of drawers attributed to Eliakim Smith, Hadley, Massachusetts, ca. 1770. Cherry with white pine. H. 89 3/4", W. 39 15/16", D. 20 3/8". (Courtesy, Historic Deerfield, Inc. photo, Amanda Merullo.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Chest-on-chest, southern New Hampshire, ca. 1780. Maple with pine. H. 89", W. 40 5/8", D. 19 7/8". (Courtesy, The Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire. Museum purchase: George A. Leighton Fund, 1960.7; photo, Frank Kelly).   

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Chest-on-chest on frame by Samuel Loomis, Colchester, Connecticut, ca. 1775. Mahogany with pine. H. 88", W. 45", D. 26". (Courtesy, Wadsworth Atheneum; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur L. Shipman, acc.1967.140.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24
    Chest-on-chest by Jonathan Smith Jr., Conway, Massachusetts, 1803. Cherry with white pine. H. 83 1/4", W. 37 1/2", D. 23 1/4". (Courtesy, Historic Deerfield, Inc.; photo, Amanda Merullo.)
  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Cupboard and case of drawers, Mount Lebanon, New York, ca. 1820. Painted pine with fruitwood knobs. H. 96", W. 54", D. 14". (Courtesy, Mount Lebanon Shaker Collection. Circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Gibson House, Canandaigua, New York, ca. 1820. (Courtesy, Ontario County Historical Society.)

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    George West house, Irasburg, Vermont, 1824–1834. (Courtesy, Middlebury College and Erik Borg.) This is one of a group of houses built in the upper Connecticut Valley from the mid-1820s until about 1850. The earliest examples appear to have originated in the northern part of the state and may have roots in French Canadian building practices.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Desk-and-bookcase, Middlebury, Vermont, ca. 1820, Maple and cherry with pine. (Courtesy of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Middlebury, Vermont.) Although the contrasting veneers of this desk-and-bookcase are stylistically related to cabinetwork from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, it is part of a group of western Vermont furniture distinguished by brilliantly figured curley and bird’s-eye maple panels and veneers.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Desk-and-bookcase by John Shearer, Martinsburg, West Virginia, 1801 (desk) and 1806 (bookcase). Walnut, cherry, and mulberry with yellow pine and oak. H. 106", W. 45", D. 24 1/2". (Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Gravestone of Cornelius C. Van Wyck, Fishkill, New York, 1767. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Gravestone of Catherina Elserin, Adamstown, Pennsylvania, 1793. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    German Palatine Church, Stone Arabia, New York, 1770 with tower about 1805. (Photo, William Hosley.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Gravestone of Cuffe Gibbs by Pompe Stevens, Common Burying Ground, Newport, Rhode Island, 1768. (Photo, William Hosley.) The several dozen stones marking the graves of African slaves in Newport’s largest colonial burying ground is the largest concentration in New England. This stone is signed by an African American stonecutter, Pompe Stevens, who probably worked in the shop of John Stevens, Newport’s most skilled and prolific stonecutter.

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Gravestone of Dr. John Henry Burchsted, Lynn, Massachusetts, 1721. (Photo, William Hosley.) This prominent physician was from Silesia, and his gravestone is one of the most expensive from its time.

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Gravestone of James Park, Groton, Massachusetts, 1778. (Photo, William Hosley.) The Park family of Groton were a multigenerational dynasty of Scotch stonemasons.