Search

Collection Tour

American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Highlights

  • American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Highlights - Slide

  • Chest of drawers

    1640–70

    Attributed to Ralph Mason and Henry Messinger shops, Mason...

    Description

    Perhaps the earliest example of Boston furniture in the Museum's collection, this is a full-fledged chest of drawers, an innovative form rarely made in America before 1690. Exotic tropical hardwoods in its construction and decoration include ebony for the turned spindles in the upper case and cedrela (and local black walnut) for the facade and sides of the upper and lower cases. The use of woods imported from far away reflects the participation of Boston's craftsmen in international trade as early as the mid-seventeenth century.

    Details

    Dimensions

    130.2 x 119.9 x 58.6 cm (51 1/4 x 47 3/16 x 23 1/16 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, cedrela (Cedrela odorata), black walnut, cedar, ebony

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    32.219

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Beaker

    1659

    John Hull, American (born in England), 1624–1683

    Description

    The raised, short, cylindrical form with a flat bottom flares slightly at lip; the center point is evident on the base. A broad lightly hatched field encircling the beaker is contained between two scribed lines placed 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) from lip and base. A shield-shaped device descends from upper scored line.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 9.9 x 9.3 cm, 0.19 kg (3 7/8 x 3 11/16 in., 0.42 lb.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1999.90

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Wine cup

    1660–80

    John Hull, American (born in England), 1624–1683

    Description

    The raised straight-sided bowl opens outward from its base toward a flaring lip. A strengthening disk has been applied to the base. Some repair continues below to the first of two reel-shaped elements that form the top of the stem. The central baluster is in the shape of an inverted egg; below is a cast floral design with petals and beads. At the base, the baluster is soldered to a splayed foot with an applied, stepped ring at its perimeter.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 20.3 x 11.4 cm, 0.4 kg (8 x 4 1/2 in., 0.88 lb.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1999.91

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Leather great chair

    1665–80

    Description

    Armchair (upholstered)

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 96.5 x 60 x 41.6 cm (38 x 23 5/8 x 16 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oak; maple; original upholstery foundation of linen webbing, linen sackcloth, and grass; leather cover; brass nails

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1977.711

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chest of drawers with doors

    1670–1700

    Description

    The inlaid checkerboard and sawtooth motifs; applied, decorative spindles with unusual acorn caps; and frieze glyphs (small, applied ornaments seen on the upper section, between the drawers, and on the sides) also are found on cupboards and chests from the New Haven colony. Probably made by London-trained craftsmen, these objects exhibit an economical use of materials. This may reflect the "wood famine mentality" that permeated the thinking of English craftsmen, faced with a shortage of timber since Elizabethan times. Although lumber was plentiful in America, some craftsmen retained the frugal practices learned in their training.

    Details

    Dimensions

    92.39 x 112.71 x 57.78 cm (36 3/8 x 44 3/8 x 22 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, walnut, cedar, pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1980.274

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Salver

    about 1680–90

    Timothy Dwight, 1664–1691 or 1692

    Description

    Broad-rimmed plate on trumpet foot. Engraved with elaborate design of flowers & animals

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 8.1 x 9.4 x 28.7 cm (3 3/16 x 3 11/16 x 11 5/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    31.227

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Caudle cup

    about 1690

    John Coney, American, 1655 or 1656–1722

    Description

    Gourd-shaped, embossed on lower half of body with figure of child coming from flower on each side and varoius flowers (tulips carnations and daisies?). Plain neck with moulded rim. Beaded and scrolled cast handles with woman's head on shoulders.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia of base): 14.3 x 13 cm (5 5/8 x 5 1/8 in.); Other (Dia of rim): 14.6 cm (5 3/4 in.); Weight: 26 oz., 17 1/2 dwt.

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    65.388

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Joined chest

    1670–1700

    Attributed to Thomas Dennis, American (born in England),...

    Description

    The three-panel front of this joined chest is composed of two arch panels flanking a central diamond panel. The arch panels are carved with stylized palmettes with a chalice-shaped truncated central leaf, while the diamond panel encloses four tulip motifs, stem to stem, and is bordered by broad curling leaves. The stiles and rails are carved with addorsed palmettes. Much original pink-white and bluish black color remains in the backgrounds. The carving on the stiles was painted black against black, and traces of both black and white appear in the panels. Beneath the stiles are two brackets with the initials MI, possibly those of the original owner.

    The ends are two-paneled, with a molded central stile and a channeled rail; they retain a thin coat of green paint, flecked from the brush with an irregular pattern of dots. The back has three plain panels. The single plank pine lid is fitted with oak cleats and shows traces of a later coat of white lead, now largely rubbed off on the front portions. The ends of the lid are gouged with quarter-round indentations.

    The interior is fitted with a till, the lid of which has a molded edge; and the bottom of the chest is made of five oak planks running transversely and nailed in place. The keyhole escucheon is original, but the lock and catch are lacking.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 77.5 x 112.7 x 48.3 cm (30 1/2 x 44 3/8 x 19 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    29.1015

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Joined chest with drawer

    1699

    Description

    Many woodworking shops were active in seventeenth-century New England, and ordinarily the sources of their furniture design can be traced back to specific areas of England. This example is from Springfield in the Connecticut River Valley. Bearing the carved initials PK and the date 1699, this example was probably made as a dower chest. It has been suggested that it was made for Prudence Kellogg of Hadley, Massachusetts, who married Deacon Abraham Merrill of West Hartford in that year, but that supposition has yet to be confirmed. It is one of a large body of some 175 surviving objects produced between about 1680 and 1730 in the Connecticut valley from Enfield, Connecticut, to Northfield, Massachusetts, and embellished with the so-called Hadley motif of a tulip and leaf on a stem. It is also part of a small subgroup enriched with applied spindles and chevron inlay formed
    by contrasting heartwood (dark-colored) and sapwood (light-colored) of black walnut (Juglans nigra). This type of decorations and other elements of the chest have been linked to the regional furniture of the North Country of England, brought to the valley by an immigrant craftsman from that region.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    80.96 x 136.18 x 46.67 cm (31 7/8 x 53 5/8 x 18 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, pine, maple, black walnut

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    32.218

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Court cupboard

    1685–90

    Description

    The cupboard--used to store textiles and to display silver, glass, ceramics, and other costly wares--was among the most expensive and prominent articles of domestic furniture. This example is richly embellished with almost the full vocabulary of seventeenth-century ornament: shallow relief carving; crisp turnings; moldings derived from architectural sources; and decoration painted black, in imitation of ebony. Period inventories mention fine linen covering the tops of cupboards, such as the "two diaper cuberd cloaths" and "one hollond one" in the 1691 inventory of Jonathan Avery of Dedham.

    Details

    Dimensions

    149.22 x 123.19 x 49.21 cm (58 3/4 x 48 1/2 x 19 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, maple, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    51.53

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Joined great chair

    about 1640–85

    Description

    A wainscot chair, with the upper panel of the two-paneled back carved with a bold guilloche containing three rosettes. The guilloche bands are sharply incised with pairs of parallel lines, and the twelve petals of each flower are similarly cut with a simple leaf design. The borders of the guilloche are filled with broadly cut foliage. On the stiles are carved S-scrolls against a punch-roughened ground, and the rail extends beyond the stiles and is carved with a double arcade incised with crosshatching. The front posts are square in section, tapering upwards both above and below the seat; while the back posts, of rectangular section, taper in the front plane on both directions from the seat. The arms are shaped with a slight belly, and droop forward to a half-moon finial. The seat is of two oak planks notched at the sides, and the stretchers are rectangular.

    The chair was restored in 1937 on the basis of the chair in the Danvers (Mass.) Historical Society. The plank seat is a replacement, the rear legs are spliced, the lower square section of the front legs replaced, and the side and front stretchers renewed. There have been some repairs to the crest rail, especially at the proper right corner, and there are traces of black paint throughout.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 103.5 x 57.8 x 42.2 cm (40 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 16 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oak

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    37.316

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Tankard

    about 1700

    Henry Hurst, American, born in Sweden, 1666–1717 American (born...

    Description

    Straight tapering sides, moulded base & rim; flat top with serrated edge, reeded shoulder and chased border. Scroll handle embossed with fruit and flowers, rat-tail drop, cherub's head tip, reeded hinge, dolphin and mask purchase.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia. of base): 17.8 x 13.2 cm (7 x 5 3/16 in.); Other (dia. of lip): 11.1cm (4 3/8in.); Weight: 26 oz., 5 dwt.

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    31.228

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sugar box

    about 1680–85

    John Coney, American, 1655 or 1656–1722

    Description

    Oval with four scroll feet. Body repousee & granulated; cover more elaborate with acanthus & wreath, knotted serpent forms handle. Pierced sheild-shaped hasp.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w x d): 12.2 x 15.2 x 19.8 cm (4 13/16 x 6 x 7 3/4 in.); Weight: 29 oz., 10 dwt

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    13.421

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sugar box

    about 1700

    John Coney, American, 1655 or 1656–1722

    Description

    Elliptical, convex sides ornamented by 16 oval bosses surrounded by reeding and divided by repousse trefoils, flaring rim, stepped and domed hinged cover, piercing hasp engraved SG, pad feet. Band of reeding midway on cover, gadrooned ellipse around top across which coiled serpent forms ring handle.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h.x w. x d.): 16.7 x 20.3 x 14 cm (6 9/16 x 8 x 5 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    32.370

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sugar box

    about 1702

    Edward Winslow, American, 1669–1753 American

    Description

    Shallow elliptical box, almost vertical rim, curved sides embossed with four medallions divided by gadroons and acanthus leaves, band of reeding below; domed bottom; on four scrolled feet. High domed cover has delicate edging on moulded rim, band of reeding (cracked) midway to flattened top which is embossed with wreath encircled by foliage on matted ground. Foliated cast scroll handle across top, also embossed. Front has small lug for missing hasp (hinge also gone)

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w x d): 17 x 21.6 x 14.6 cm (6 11/16 x 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 in.); 22 oz., 15 1/2 dwt.

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    42.251

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Standing salt

    1690–1700

    Jeremiah Dummer, American, 1645–1718 American

    Description

    Spool shaped circular body, moulded midband; moulded octagonal base and top separated from spool by bands of reeding. Shallow circular receptacle for salt and four scrolled projections on top. Reeding at bottom.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w): 14 x 11.9 cm (5 1/2 x 4 11/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    32.371

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Candlestick (one of a pair)

    1695–1700

    John Noyes, American, 1674–1749

    Description

    Cut-cornered square moulded base with band of reeding; spiral reeding at base of stick; hollow moulded and reeded flange; fluted column, with stopped reeding and collar, with incised line, at flange. Moulded rim . Bobeche in outline of base with a very deep bezel of two sheets moulded beneath and circle of spiral reeding on top. Mark on side away from crest on edge. cork in bottom of stopped bezel. Flange opening at outer edge. Top and flange bent.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 16.2 x 23.5 cm (6 3/8 x 9 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    54.595

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chocolate pot

    1701

    John Coney, American, 1655 or 1656–1722

    Description

    Moulded band around base and top. Moulded cover with removable finial. Curved spout with lines of beading at right angles to wooden scroll handle.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia. of base): 20.5 x 9.2 cm (8 1/16 x 3 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    29.1091

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Caster

    1710–20

    John Coney, American, 1655 or 1656–1722

    Description

    Baluster form, convex section above base moulding, flange below bexel. Domed cover with moulding near rim, indented midway, cast angular finial holding pierced panels at top. Tiny hole in body at foot. Two punches indicate point of clousure.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 4.9 x 15.9 cm (1 15/16 x 6 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    63.956

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • High chest of drawers

    about 1700–20

    Description

    In this high chest, elegance of line, richness of turning, and choice of wood have been combined with consummate skill. The rising moldings which crown the upper case complement the flatter, broader moldings at the top of the lower case and help to frame the four tiers of drawers. The drawers are of graduated sizes, with the upper divided in two, and three small drawers below. They are all veneered with maple burl, framed with a double band of walnut set in herringbone fashion. The drawers are framed with double-arched moldings, and are fitted with scalloped escutcheon plates and drop handles. The center of the case is cut with a deep arch with reverse curved sides, flanked by flattened ogee arches. The sides of the case are solid wood and are cut with ogee arches at the base. All the lower borders have an attached bead strip to emphasize the outline. The legs are cup-turned and reach extremely thin diameters at several points. The legs are pegged through the shaped flat stretchers into the flattened ball feet with deep pads.

    The sides, structural members, and legs are maple, while the drawers, back and stretchers are pine. The keyhole escutcheons are original, as are one pull and its plate. The other pulls are copies. There is a small repair to the center of the front stretcher.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 161 x 101.6 x 54.3 cm (63 3/8 x 40 x 21 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Maple, walnut veneer, maple burl veneer, pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    40.607

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chest-on-chest

    1715–25

    Description

    This chest, originally owned by the Warland family of Cambridge, Massachusetts, appears at first glance to be English-made, given its broad proportions, walnut veneers, fluted and canted front corners, recessed inlaid shell, and "slider" (a pull-out shelf in the mid-section used for folding textiles and clothing). However, further analysis indicated that the piece was made of native woods, including American black walnut and eastern white pine. In addition, microanalysis proved that the pollen trapped in the hardened mixture of fats and dust in the crevices comes from trees, plants, and grasses characteristic of coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

    Details

    Dimensions

    179.7 x 107.31 x 54.61 cm (70 3/4 x 42 1/4 x 21 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    American black walnut, burl walnut veneer, eastern white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1986.240

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Desk and bookcase

    About 1715–20

    Description

    Desk and bookcase of Virginia walnut and white pine. Front of crotch-grain veneer; drawer and door bands of mahogany, ebony and satinwood; stars of rosewood and satinwood on doors and lid. Scroll pediment; central finial ( a replacement). Two arched paneled doors enclosing drawers and pigeonholes. Slant lid above four graduated drawers with original brass bail handles and escutcheons. Bracket feet.

    Details

    Dimensions

    224.79 x 75.25 x 52.07 cm (88 1/2 x 29 5/8 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut, white pine, mahogany, ebony, satinwood

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    39.176

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Two-handled covered cup

    About 1740–50

    Jacob Hurd, American, 1702 or 1703–1758

    Description

    Hurd's monumental, two-handled cups are among the masterpieces of Boston Baroque silver. This one was made for John Rowe and is beautifully engraved with his coat of arms. Graceful in stance and majestic in bearing, the cup presents a perfectly balanced composition of smooth surfaces and flowing handles and moldings. Although it is not known how Rowe acquired this cup, Bostonians often gave Hurd's cups as presentation pieces to reward sea captains and military heroes. At least one was used to hold Bishop, a sweet drink made of wine, oranges or lemons, and sugar mixed with mulled and spiced port. Bishop was drunk as the cup was passed from hand to hand.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 34.3 x 30.5 x 21 cm (13 1/2 x 12 x 8 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    36.415

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Clothespress

    1740–50

    Description

    The clothespress-used for storing linens and other textiles in many drawers, including some hidden by the doors of the upper case-was a relatively rare form in American furniture. This is one of a small group made in Boston; each features a closed, deeply curved pediment, derived from Anglo-Dutch furniture. The clothespress was made for Boston merchant Gilbert DeBlois, probably near the time of his marriage to Ann Coffin, in 1749. DeBlois (whose portrait hangs nearby) was a Loyalist who fled to England during the Revolution, leaving his family and property behind. His wife managed to retain or reacquire family possessions, and the clothespress remained in the family until it was acquired by the Museum, in 1987.

    Details

    Dimensions

    230.5 x 114.3 x 56.51 cm (90 3/4 x 45 x 22 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, chestnut, eastern white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1987.254

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair

    about 1740

    Description

    Unlike the rectilinear lines of the early Baroque style, the late Baroque embraced curves. This undulating Philadelphia side chair is sculptural in form with a sweeping arched crest rail and a bulbous rounded seat. Some scholars have argued that these curves came into fashion precisely because they were more expensive to make. Craftsmen on both sides of the Atlantic had learned how to mass-produce the straight, turned elements of the early style. Larger quantities made such chairs less expensive and therefore available to more people. In their effort to offer novel and more exclusive designs, craftsmen serving the wealthy began to create curved furniture that had to be carved by hand, thus slowing down production and greatly increasing costs.

    The most boldly shaped American late Baroque chairs, such as this example, were made in Philadelphia. The city was becoming increasingly important-in both wealth and political power-just as this curved style was gaining popularity in the American colonies. Philadelphia's new prominence further attracted immigrant British craftsmen who brought the latest styles.

    This chair's striking profile is enhanced by carving that emphasizes the piece's curves. Leafy tendrils flowing out of a carved shell stream down each leg, while a large, looser shell spreads over the crest rail between two dynamic volutes. A highly unusual flamelike motif creeps up the center toe of the trifid feet. Few chairs of this style surpass the opulence of this example, either in form or decoration.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 108.6 x 51.4 x 40.6 cm (42 3/4 x 20 1/4 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    39.119

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Missal stand (atril)

    1725–30

    Description

    Formed of five sheets of silver with a simple replaced wooden framework, the slanted central portion of the stand has been repousséd with an elliptical boss on which is chased the Jesuit seal containing the letters “IHS,” with a cross above and three nails below. Covered throughout with repousséd and chased decoration, the pattern is bilaterally symmetrical. Passion flowers and vines form the primary subject matter; a pair of "hombre verde," or green men, flank the Jesuit seal, and a pair of viscachas emerges from the greenery below the seal. An angel-like grotesquerie emerges from a foliate bud located centrally on the lower skirt of the stand. Cast sphinxlike creatures are affixed to the two front corners, and three small floral elements are attached to the stand’s upper edge.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 29.5 x 34.8 x 27 cm, 2.6 kg (11 5/8 x 13 11/16 x 10 5/8 in., 5.7 lb.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    2001.843

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • High chest of drawers

    About 1730–40

    Description

    "Japanned" decoration is a greatly simplified imitation of Asian lacquer work. In colonial America, the production of Japanned furniture was largely, if not exclusively, limited to Boston, where at least ten japanners worked before 1750. Several design characteristics link this example to two of these craftsmen, William Randall and Robert Davis. These include the large figures and animals (note the dog on the third long drawer), the oversized floral ornament (on the center of the second long drawer), long-necked birds resembling cranes (on the first and second long drawers and the skirt), and isolated, rather than integrated, groups of motifs.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 182.2 x 108.9 x 62.9 cm (71 3/4 x 42 7/8 x 24 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Japanned butternut, maple, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    32.227

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair (one of a pair)

    About 1750–60

    Probably carved by John Welch, American, 1711–1789

    Description

    Side chair
    Needlework seat attributed to Margaret Fayerweather Bromfield (1732-1761)
    Boston, about 1750-60
    Walnut, white pine, maple, original needlepoint seat cover

    Gift of Mrs. Jean Frederic Wagniere, in memory of her mother, Henrietta Slade Warner (Mrs. Henry Eldridge Warner), 1968 68.839

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 98.4 x 55.9 x 52.1 cm (38 3/4 x 22 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut, white pine, maple, original needlework seat

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    68.839

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Card table

    1730–50

    Description

    Mahogany, wool needlework. Cabriole legs, Dutch feet shaped top with grooves for counters and needlework in center. Hinged frame.

    Details

    Dimensions

    68.6 x 90.5 x 89.2 cm (27 x 35 5/8 x 35 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, chestnut, eastern white pine, original needlework top

    Classification

    Furniture , Tables, Stands, and Screens

    Accession Number

    49.330

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Tilt-top tea table

    about 1760–75

    Description

    When not in use, the top of this table could be tilted vertically. The tilting mechanism allows the tabletop to swivel while horizontal as well. This adaptable design permitted hostesses to serve tea without reaching or to store the table against a wall, while still exhibiting its craftsmanship and beauty. The robust, elaborate carving on this table is attributed to one of the city's most skilled artisans-a craftsman whose work is well known by its style, but whose identity remains a mystery.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 75.9 x 84.8 cm (29 7/8 x 33 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany

    Classification

    Furniture , Tables, Stands, and Screens

    Accession Number

    39.146

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Dressing table

    About 1760–70

    Description

    Figural motifs-such as the delicate swan carved on the central drawer of this table-are rare in American Rococo furniture. The table belongs to a small group of Philadelphia pieces embellished with scenes thought to be from Aesop's "Fables." The popularity of Aesop's moralistic tales soared in the mid-eighteenth century, and illustrations from the stories were widely copied by English and American craftsmen on textiles, architectural elements, and other media. The fact that these tales, which warned against greed and vanity, decorated expensive luxury goods was an irony that may have appealed to, or been lost on, eighteenth-century consumers.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 81 x 51.8 x 92.1 cm (31 7/8 x 20 3/8 x 36 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    San Domingo mahogany, mahogany veneer, yellow-poplar, cedar

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    39.150

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Bread basket

    about 1765

    Daniel Christian Fueter, American (born in Switzerland), 1720–1785

    Description

    This is one of the most sophisticated examples of American Rococo silver. Simultaneously light and monumental, the basket is a tour-de-force of design and technique. The delicate, lacy openwork lends a sense of liveliness, as light reflects off the solids and plays through the voids of the pierced body. Yet, the seemingly whimsical pattern is tightly controlled in execution and further contained by a solid, cast border of undulating fruit and foliage. The cast elements-border, scrolled feet, and twisted handle with unusual female masks-defy the solidity of their structure and add to the curving movement of the piece.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 27.1 x 37.8 x 31.1 cm (10 11/16 x 14 7/8 x 12 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    54.857

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Fireback

    About 1770–87

    Joseph Webb, American, about 1734–1787 American

    Description

    Cast-iron fireback consisting of a panel with an arched top and scrolled ears. Decorated with reliefs, foliate borders at the sides, and in the center with a coat of arms consisting of a shield, three castles separated by a chevron with an open compass, and with crest of a bird with a leafed banch in its beak, all elaborated with foliage. Motto along arched crest; motto in scroll below arms; maker's name along bottom.

    Details

    Dimensions

    64.13 x 68.58 x 3.81 cm (25 1/4 x 27 x 1 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Cast iron

    Classification

    Metalwork

    Accession Number

    1982.618

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Desk and bookcase

    About 1770–85

    George Bright, American, 1726–1805

    Description

    This imposing, bombé (swelled base) desk-and-bookcase represents the pinnacle of the Rococo style in Boston. From its massive, claw-and-ball feet to the eagle finial at the top, the piece is embellished with costly carving that represents a level of lavish ornamentation not ordinarily seen on Boston furniture. Bright, known as "the neatest workman in town," signed his masterpiece on one of its drawers. He made it for Boston's Judge Samuel Barrett as a wedding present to Barrett's daughter Ann.

    Details

    Dimensions

    252.7 x 109.2 x 61 cm (99 1/2 x 43 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, white pine, glass

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    56.1194

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Desk and bookcase

    1765–1785

    Description

    Scroll pediment with carved finials. Triple division with convex and concave panels surmounted by carved shell forms on doors and slant lid, over 3 graduated blocked front drawers, on ogee feet. Doors flanked by fluted quarter columns. Brass bail handles and escutcheons.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 241.9 x 101.3 x 66 cm (95 1/4 x 39 7/8 x 26 in.) Other (Depth of desk opened): 96.5 cm (38 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, chestnut, pine, cherry

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    39.155

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Coffeepot

    About 1770–80

    Richard Humphreys, American (born British West Indies), 1749–1832

    Description

    This majestic coffeepot is among the best Rococo silver produced in Philadelphia. The double-bellied form, gadrooned borders on the foot and lid, and scrolled, curving spout are characteristic hallmarks of the style, but perhaps the most beautiful passage of the object is on the side: the coat of arms and crest of a horse engraved within a delicate shell and foliate cartouche. The accompanying salver is supported on claw-and-ball feet and is engraved with the same coat of arms at its center. Shown here as a support for the coffeepot, it could also have been used as a server or stand for a single teacup, saucer, and spoon. Fashioning stands en suite with teapots and coffeepots seems to have been common in Philadelphia, although the custom is rarely encountered elsewhere in American silver.

    The talented Quaker silversmith Richard Humphreys was born in Tortola in the British West Indies. Apprenticed to Bancroft Woodcock in Wilmington, Delaware, he opened his own shop in Philadelphia in 1772. Although a relatively small number of objects by him are known, each-like this coffeepot and salver-is extraordinary. After service in the Revolution (for which he was censured by the Quaker Friends), he resumed his craft at "The Sign of the Coffee Pot" on Front Street in 1781 and later at different locations. He is perhaps best known as the maker of a large Neoclassical urn presented to Charles Thomson by the Continental Congress in 1774, when he was elected secretary of that political body, a position he held until 1789. That urn is engraved by James Smither, who may have executed the engraving here.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 34.4 x 11.4 cm (13 9/16 x 4 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Silver with wooden handle

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    56.589

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Salver

    About 1770–80

    Richard Humphreys, American (born British West Indies), 1749–1832

    Description

    This majestic coffeepot is among the best Rococo silver produced in Philadelphia. The double-bellied form, gadrooned borders on the foot and lid, and scrolled, curving spout are characteristic hallmarks of the style, but perhaps the most beautiful passage of the object is on the side: the coat of arms and crest of a horse engraved within a delicate shell and foliate cartouche. The accompanying salver is supported on claw-and-ball feet and is engraved with the same coat of arms at its center. Shown here as a support for the coffeepot, it could also have been used as a server or stand for a single teacup, saucer, and spoon. Fashioning stands en suite with teapots and coffeepots seems to have been common in Philadelphia, although the custom is rarely encountered elsewhere in American silver.

    The talented Quaker silversmith Richard Humphreys was born in Tortola in the British West Indies. Apprenticed to Bancroft Woodcock in Wilmington, Delaware, he opened his own shop in Philadelphia in 1772. Although a relatively small number of objects by him are known, each-like this coffeepot and salver-is extraordinary. After service in the Revolution (for which he was censured by the Quaker Friends), he resumed his craft at "The Sign of the Coffee Pot" on Front Street in 1781 and later at different locations. He is perhaps best known as the maker of a large Neoclassical urn presented to Charles Thomson by the Continental Congress in 1774, when he was elected secretary of that political body, a position he held until 1789. That urn is engraved by James Smither, who may have executed the engraving here.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 3.2 x 17 cm (1 1/4 x 6 11/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    56.590

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair

    About 1765–85

    Description

    This chair represents the height of the Rococo style in colonial Boston. Closely based on English examples, the chair originally was owned by Moses Gill, of Boston and Princeton, Massachusetts. Gill was a prosperous hardware merchant and a political official who served as lieutenant governor and acting governor of Massachusetts. He was married to Nicholas Boylston's sister Rebecca, whose portrait is on view in the Copley Gallery.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 97.2 x 62.5 x 47.9 cm (38 1/4 x 24 5/8 x 18 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, soft maple, red oak

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1996.52

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair

    about 1770

    Attributed to Nathaniel Gould, American, 1734–1781

    Description

    In addition to immigrant craftsmen and imported objects, engraved furniture designs were an important means of transmission of the Rococo style from England to America. This chair is based largely on a plate in Thomas Chippendale's "Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director" (London, 1762). Although copies of the "Director" were owned in New England, few surviving examples of furniture relate closely to the book's designs. This chair is an important exception, demonstrating the influence of imported pattern and design books in colonial Boston.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 93.3 x 56.5 x 45.7 cm (36 3/4 x 22 1/4 x 18 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, maple, pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    2004.2062

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Cathedra (bishop's chair)

    1880–1905

    Description

    Large, heavily carved armchair with cabriole legs featuring grotesque masks on all four knees and terminating in claw-and-ball feet; elaborately carved front seat rail with inverted shell between two foliate scrolls emanating from masks; carved rear stiles terminate in reverse scroll; arms bear foliate carving on outer side and terminate in scrolled hand-holds; crest rail formed of compound curves; carved sun surrounded by foliate scrolls on outside of back; modern leather upholstery secured with twenty-five (out of seventy) original brass nails.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 111.8 x 58.4 x 94cm (44 x 23 x 37in.)

    Medium

    Spanish cedar (cedrela odorata, by microanalysis); modern leather upholstery with twenty-five original brass nails and additional replacements

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1980.171

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Teapot

    1760–65

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Description

    Long before he earned fame as a zealous patriot, Paul Revere Jr. was well known among his contemporaries as a superb silversmith and engraver. He learned his trade from his father, Paul Revere Sr., who had emigrated from France as a young man and apprenticed with noted silversmith John Coney. The younger Revere inherited the shop after his father's death in 1754, working under his mother's name until he came of age a year later. The craftsman's early work shows his quick adoption and mastery of the Rococo style, both in engraving and three-dimensional works in silver.

    This extraordinary teapot is one of the finest surviving Rococo teapots from Boston. The sophisticated double-bellied shape is embellished with raised, chased decoration, as opposed to the more common flat, engraved method. The designs, which were punched out from the interior of the piece, decorate the shoulder of the teapot and form the central cartouche. The iconography includes common Rococo motifs such as C-scrolls, raffles (ruffle-like decoration), and a variety of flowers arranged in an energetic and asymmetrical fashion, as well as a more exotic bird and chinoiserie pavilion. These unusual motifs indicate Revere's advanced knowledge of, and willingness to experiment with, the Rococo style.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14.9cm (5 7/8in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    35.1775

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sons of Liberty Bowl

    1768

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Description

    The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the "Glorious Ninety-Two" was a major step leading to the American Revolution. The bowl was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret, revolutionary organization to which Revere belonged; their names are engraved on the bowl as are references to Englishman John Wilkes, whose writing in defense of liberty inspired American patriots. The Liberty Bowl, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have been called the nation's three most cherished historical treasures. The bowl was purchased by the Museum in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public.

    Inscribed below the rim: "Caleb Hopkins, Nathl barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjn Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichbod Jones, John Homer, Willm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb."

    One side, in a circle with a scroll and foliated frame topped by a Liberty cap flanked by flags is engraved: "Magna/Charta" and "Bill of/Rights." Inside the circle is inscribed: "No45. /Wilkes & Liberty" over a torn page labeled "Generall/Warrants."

    Inscribed on the other side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath above leafy scrolls: "To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members/of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay/who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power/from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES/of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768 /Voted NOT TO RESCIND."

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) Other (Base): 14.8cm (5 13/16in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    49.45

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Fruit basket

    1771–72

    American China Manufactory, (active 1770–1772) of Gousse Bonnin...

    Description

    The American China Manufactory was the first and only financially successful porcelain factory in the colonies. Opened in Philadelphia with great public fanfare and patriotic sentiment, the factory produced its first wares in late 1770. However, although its porcelain adorned the most fashionable tables, the business venture failed in less than two years. The factory could not compete with the flood of cheap imports that continued to enter American ports-regardless of the patriotic support espoused (but perhaps not practiced) by many.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other: 6.8 x 17.5 cm (2 11/16 x 6 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Soft-paste porcelain, underglaze blue decoration

    Classification

    Ceramics , Porcelain

    Accession Number

    1977.621

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Covered goblet (pokal)

    1785–95

    Attributed to New Bremen Glassmanufactory of John Frederick...

    Description

    Large covered goblet or pokal of blown, non-lead glass of gray tint; the bowl of deep ogee shape having two rows of air beads in its solid base; inverted baluster stem; high domed foot; pontil mark. The inset cover has a trailed ring to rest on bowl rim, and a wide baluster finial with tear.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 31.4 x 11.4 cm (12 3/8 x 4 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Non-lead glass, free blown

    Classification

    Glass

    Accession Number

    1994.82a-b

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chest-on-chest

    1782

    John Cogswell, American, 1738–1818

    Description

    Signed and dated on the top of its lower case, this imposing chest represents the finest furniture made in Boston toward the end of the American Revolution. Its bombé (swelled base) form and claw-and-ball feet are conservative, reflecting the Rococo style that had been popular in America since the 1750s. Its restrained line and refined carving are more closely aligned with the Neoclassical style, which would dominate taste after the war. According to family tradition, Cogswell, one of Boston's leading cabinetmakers, made this piece for John Derby, the son of Elias Hasket Derby, for use in his room at Harvard College.

    Details

    Dimensions

    246.38 x 112.39 x 59.69 cm (97 x 44 1/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, white pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1973.289

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chest-on-chest

    1806–09

    Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire, American,...

    Description

    A masterpiece of American furniture, this is likely the "Case of mahogany drawers $55" listed in the inventory as being in "Madame Derby's" bedchamber. The carving is indicative of McIntire's late career, when his skills were at their height. The central basket brimming with flowers and the allegorical figure of America appear elsewhere in his carving, as do the urns, which relate to his carving above the door in the Oak Hill parlor. Elizabeth Derby's interest in the neoclassical style, in symbols of America, and in preserving the traditions of her distinguished family is clear in this chest. The overall form-inspired by eighteenth-century, Rococo case furniture-also relates to other examples of this form purchased from Boston and Salem craftsmen by members of the Derby family.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 229.6 x 118.7 cm (90 3/8 x 46 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    41.580

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Lady's writing table with tambour shutters

    1793–96

    John Seymour, American (born in England), 1738–1818

    Description

    Tall desk of tambour form, recessed upper section enclosed by sliding tambour doors, flanked by inlaid pilasters, which open to reveal on each side three pigeonholes with Gothic arches and blue-green paint above tier of small drawers fitted with ring pulls; lower case contains folding writing section above three graduated drawers; tapered legs with scrolled knee brackets terminate in spade feet; brasses replaced

    Details

    Dimensions

    128.27 x 101.6 x 53.34 cm (50 1/2 x 40 x 21 in.)

    Medium

    Satinwood and curly satinwood veneer, eastern white pine, black ash, black walnut, cedar, cherry, light- and dark-wood inlays, brass

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    2000.636

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Teapot

    1796

    Paul Revere, Jr., American, 1734–1818

    Description

    After a hiatus in his silversmithing business during the Revolution, Paul Revere returned to his craft about 1780. Soon his shop began producing silver in the newest taste, using the latest technology. This fluted teapot, for example, is probably based on similar English works in silver, fused plate (also called Sheffield plate), or ceramic wares, and it is made of rolled sheet silver. Bending sheets of thin silver, produced in rolling mills, into a desired form and soldering them together took less time and effort than the traditional, more laborious method of raising a vessel from an ingot with repeated hammer blows. Here, Revere decorated the teapot with dotted and bright-cut bands over tasseled festoons at top and bottom, all in the latest Neoclassical style.

    Revere entered a charge for this teapot in his account book on June 18, 1796, noting its sale to Jonathan Hunnewell, a mason and distinguished citizen of Boston. As was common, the intrinsic value of the silver (at 7 shillings per ounce for a total value of £7.1.0) was roughly equivalent to the price Revere charged for making and engraving the vessel (£7.10.0), bringing the total cost to £14.11.0. Hunnewell also ordered a stand for the teapot and a sugar basket, twelve teaspoons, sugar tongs, and four salt shovels.

    Hunnewell and Revere were friends. Each was an active member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Society, a mutual aid organization founded in 1795; Revere was the first president and Hunnewell the second.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    14.92 cm (5 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    35.1779

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Tea and Coffee Service

    about 1790–1800

    Christian Wiltberger, American, 1766–1851 American

    Description
    Details

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    61.949-952

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair

    about 1795–1799

    Description

    Painted oval-back frame and upholstered seat

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 98.4 x 55.2 x 48.3 cm (38 3/4 x 21 3/4 x 19 in.)

    Medium

    Beech, maple, oak

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    39.108

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair (one of a pair)

    1804–10

    Probably by Thomas Seymour, American (born in England), 1771–1848

    Description

    This chair and its pair, exhibited nearby, were based on a design in "London Chair-Maker' and Carvers' Book of Prices for Workmanship" (1802). The Seymours brought this design to life by playing light satinwood or birch veneers against dark mahogany. The crest rail with its carved, turned, and veneered elements; the delicate tracery of the back rails; and the raking front legs demonstrate the Seymours's impressive technical skill. Their shop was the only one in Boston known to have produced a chair of this complex design; they issued it in several variations.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 88.9 x 48.3 x 40.6 cm (35 x 19 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, crotch-satinwood or birch veneer, birch

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    41.610a

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Side chair

    about 1808–12

    Samuel Gragg, 1772–1855

    Description

    A bentwood chair formed of steamed members, with the curved stiles, seat rails, and front legs being one continuous member. The back is composed of five vertical bars, which curve down to form every second member of the seat. The other six bars of the seat are dovetailed to the front and back rails. There is a curved and pierced stretcher between the front legs, which are of S-form. The rear legs are strongly raked, and there are double dowel stretchers on the sides and back.

    The entire chair is painted a tawny color with linear decoration in brown and tan. The stiles have pendent green leaves at the top and the central bar of the back is slightly wider than its companions and is painted with a peacock feather. Both front and back seat rails are striped in shades of brown, as is the panel on the front stretcher.

    The seat rails are of heavy stock with the dovetails cut into their upper surface. They are double screwed to the continuous stile-rail, and the five back bars are screwed to the rear seat rail.

    Details

    Dimensions

    86.7 x 45.7 x 50.8 cm (34 1/8 x 18 x 20 in.)

    Medium

    Painted ash, hickory

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    61.1074

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Fall-front desk (secrétaire à abbattant)

    1813–25

    Thomas Emmons, American, active 1813–1825

    Description

    The firm of Thomas Emmons and George Archibald, active between 1813 and Emmons's death in 1825, was a leader in Boston furniture making in the years after the War of 1812. Worthy successors to John and Thomas Seymour, the partners produced fashionable mahogany furniture in the French Empire style, including this fall-front desk (or secrétaire à abbatant) bearing their stenciled label.

    Made in the restrained French taste, this secretary is characteristic of the elegant nature of Emmons and Archibald's work and of Boston furniture in this period. Carefully selected mahogany veneers and superbly carved hairy-paw feet provide points of visual interest to the largely rectilinear, vertical form. Brass caps and bases accent the columns at each side of the case, while a floral escutcheon surrounds the lock on the fall-front. According to their advertisement in a Boston newspaper on June 1, 1825, the firm's stock-in-trade included "a variety of elegant French CAPS and BASES, Rings, Knobs, and other Ornaments" that may have been imported from France.

    The Emmons and Archibald establishment at 39 Orange (later Washington) Street had a three-story warehouse, "commodiously arranged for exhibiting furniture," a thirteen-room dwelling house with yard and outbuildings, and "in the rear very extensive workshops with suitable fixtures and a large space protected from the sun for seasoning mahogany." The extent of the enterprise is indicated by the eleven workbenches located in the shop, where journeymen and apprentices labored at their tasks.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 153.7 x 97.8 x 49.5 cm (60 1/2 x 38 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1985.335

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Commode

    1809

    Made by Thomas Seymour, American (born in England), 1771–1848

    Description

    Thomas Seymour sold this spectacular commode to Elizabeth Derby West, daughter of the wealthy merchant Elias Hasket Derby, for her home, Oak Hill, in South Danvers, Massachusetts. The son of English immigrant cabinetmaker John Seymour, Thomas Seymour had strong connections to a network of native and immigrant craftsmen. The commode was the ambitious collaborative undertaking of highly skilled artisans offering the finest level of materials and craftsmanship available in Boston, rivaling any in the United States.

    Seymour's design is a sophisticated interpretation of the English style. Although the bright, highly figured veneers are flamboyant, the form is restrained and elegant. Shaped fronts were common on case furniture of this period, but the semielliptical plan of this commode presented an unusual challenge. The eight wedge-shaped side drawers swing open on hinges, with no interior space wasted. Each one added a considerable amount of work and expense, demonstrating that Seymour lavished attention on even the smallest details of construction, making this piece one of the finest examples of his craft.

    The commode's rounded top offered an opportunity for a showy radial display of contrasting mahogany and birch veneers. The highlight, however, is the design of seashells and leaves skillfully rendered by the decorative painter John Ritto Penniman. A receipt dated 1809 documents the work: "Large Mahogany Comode, [$]80.00. / Paid Mr. Penniman's Bill, for Painting Shels on Top of Do [ditto] [$]10.00." The crisp, confident carving of the blossoms at the tops of the colonettes and the patterned lower edge of the case is attributed to another English immigrant craftsman, Thomas Wightman, who is mentioned on the same receipt. Thomas Seymour and his partner James Cogswell brought together their best resources to make this outstanding example of American Neoclassical furniture, and Elizabeth Derby West spared no expense in obtaining it.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 105.4 x 62.5 x 127 cm (41 1/2 x 24 5/8 x 50 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany; mahogany, crotch-mahogany, crotch-birch, rosewood, and bird's-eye-maple veneers; satinwood and rosewood crossbanding; eastern white pine, white ash, maple; brass

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    23.19

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Girandole wall clock

    1816–21

    Lemuel Curtis, 1790–1857

    Description

    In 1802, Simon Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was granted a patent for the production of "Willard's Patent Time Pieces," an immensely popular wall clock. Lemuel Curtis, like many clockmakers in New England, had links, both familial and professional, with the seminal Willard shop. After completing his apprenticeship, probably with Simon Willard, Curtis opened his own shop in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1811, where he produced timepieces until he departed for Vermont in 1821. Memoirist Edward Jarvis, in his early reminiscences of Concord, recalled that Curtis's shop was "thirty feet long and ten or twelve feet wide. In a room on the left side he repaired and had a small jewelry store. The rest he used by himself, his men and apprentices as a manufactory of his timepieces."

    The Museum's girandole wall clock (named for its use of convex glass in the base section) is a type patented by Curtis in 1816 in his attempt to make a more technologically advanced and aesthetically pleasing model that would surpass the influential Willard version. This example is exceptional for its beautifully rendered image of Marriage depicted in reverse painting on glass (eglomisé), an extraordinarily difficult technique. Curtis asserted in a Boston Intelligencer advertisement from April 12, 1817, "Upon the exteriour [of his clocks] the exertions of genius and taste have not been spared, or any expence," adding that they received "the approbation of the first artists in the United States" and that they were "the best moddeled, and proportioned, and surpassing, in elegance of appearance, any timepiece ever invented." Other subjects depicted on his clocks include Commerce and victorious naval engagements from the War of 1812, fitting themes for "Meeting Houses, Banks, Parlours and other rooms."

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 116.8 x 34.9 x 14.6 cm (46 x 13 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Carved, painted, and gilded wood; brass; reverse glass painting

    Classification

    Furniture , Clocks

    Accession Number

    1991.241

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Bishop mug

    about 1821–25

    Thomas Cains, 1779–1865

    Description

    Large free-blown footed mug, with circular foot and flat, bulbous stem supporting a wide vase-shaped body; body decorated with five bands of chain decoration on lower portion and applied threading near top; free-blown ear-shaped handle is applied; contains 1821 quarter in the hollow knop of the stem

    Details

    Dimensions

    23.81 x 21.27 cm (9 3/8 x 8 3/8 in.)

    Medium

    Colorless free-blown flint glass, applied decoration; one coin

    Classification

    Glass

    Accession Number

    1995.765

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Square pier table with canted corners (one of a pair)

    about 1815–20

    Attributed to Duncan Phyfe, American (born in Scotland), 1770–1854

    Description

    In the second decade of the nineteenth century, New York City cabinetmakers produced a variety of sculptural furniture featuring three-dimensional winged caryatids, swans, eagles, dolphins, and, as seen here, mythological griffins (or gryphons). Charles-Honoré Lannuier, Duncan Phyfe, and the firm of Barzilla Deming and Erastus Bulkley were among the leading producers of these classical forms derived from English and French design books issued by Thomas Hope, George Smith, Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Lèonard Fontaine, Pierre de la Mésangère, and others.

    This pier table (one of a pair) is part of a group of griffin furniture produced by an as-yet-unidentified shop. Often associated in the past with Lannuier, more recent scholarship has tentatively suggested that the group might have come from Phyfe's shop. Careful conservation of this table revealed the original burnished gold leaf on the eagle heads and the green paint (antique vert) on the lion bodies. The gold-leaf ornamental detail around the table's top is typical of New York workmanship and represents a less expensive alternative to imported French ormolu (gilded brass or bronze) mounts.

    Griffins (called by Aeschylus "the hounds of Zeus, who never bark, with beaks like birds") combine the head and wings of an eagle with the body of a lion. The example on this table is similar to one depicted in plate 5 (part D) in The New-York Book of Prices for Manufacturing Cabinet and Chair Work, published in 1817. Such carved figures were an expensive option for this type of stylish furniture.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 84.5 x 101.6 x 48.3 cm (33 1/4 x 40 x 19 in.)

    Medium

    Rosewood veneer, mahogany veneer, mahogany, white pine, yellow-poplar, paint, brass, marble

    Classification

    Furniture , Tables, Stands, and Screens

    Accession Number

    1975.274

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Grecian couch

    about 1820

    Attributed to Hugh Finlay, American (born in Ireland), 1781–1831

    Description

    The brothers John and Hugh Finlay first advertised their wares in the Baltimore Federal Gazette of January 25, 1803. For nearly the next four decades, sometimes working together and sometimes singly, they provided the citizens of that growing and thriving city with such high-style painted furniture as this Grecian couch. At one time, their shop employed as many as sixty-eight craftsmen, including thirty men, thirteen boys, and twenty-five women. They remained current with the changing modes of Neoclassicism; Hugh Finlay, to whom this couch is attributed, even traveled for several months of 1810 in Europe, where he acquired "a number of Drawings, from furniture in the first houses in Paris and London" that he shipped back to his Baltimore shop to use as sources of inspiration for customers seeking "the most approved articles" of furniture.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    90.8 x 232.4 x 61.6 cm (35 3/4 x 91 1/2 x 24 1/4 in. )

    Medium

    Yellow-poplar, cherry, white pine; rosewood graining and gilded painting; partial original foundation and new foundation materials, cover, and trim

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1988.530

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Desk and bookcase

    about 1830

    Anthony G. Quervelle, American (born in France), 1789–1856

    Description

    In two sections: the top bookcase with acanthus carved broken cornice above a conforming highly figured mahogany frieze above a pair of cabinet doors with gothic tracery flanked by tapering columns resembling quivers with carved, gilt and painted capitals resembling the feather ends of arrows and the bases comprised of acanthus carved and gilt decorated urns.
    The bottom case having two central short drawers flanked by a pair of quarter round drawers projecting to support the columns above, resting on the case top above a fall front, imitation drawer having on its face a pair of cross banded rectangular panels each with horizontal lozenges in high relief with wooden drawer pulls at thier centers, the drawer opening to a desk, the writing surface with original crimson baize and bird's eye maple vennered interior with two stacks of three drawers with pressed glass pulls flanking a wider central drawer below a valenced ebonized niche, the drawer stacks with niche punctuated by four narrow nices with gothic valences.
    The desk section flanked by projecting plinths with vertical lozenges in high relief above columns with gilt bronze capitals and bases, flanking a pair of cabinet doors with a fan or sunburst of eight pie-slice shaped sections of flame mahogany veneer, each molded in high relief and each terminating in an elliptical section of burl ash at the outer end and a demi-lune burl-ash "sun" at the apex, the design framed by a proscenium arch formed of a thin wreath of carved oak leaves with acorns and having a stylized carved anthemions in the spandrels. The doors above a coved and gadrooned shelf flanked by plain plinths raised on short acanthus carved paw feet with short turned maple feet in back.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 259.7 x 125.1 x 61 cm (102 1/4 x 49 1/4 x 24 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, bird's-eye maple, burl ash, yellow-poplar, white pine, cedar, maple, glass, pressed-glass

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    2004.562

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Orpheus and Cerberus

    Details
    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Ewer

    1833

    Baldwin Gardiner, American, 1791–1869 American

    Description

    The large, raised, helmet-shaped presentation ewer has a cast and chased scrolled handle with foliate decoration; an air vent is below. Under the flaring spout is chased a large anthemion, on each side of which extends scrolled rinceaux decoration that surrounds the vessel. The rim is edged with die-rolled floral ornamentation. Convex die-rolled midband decoration appears above a gadrooned section; the short stem with a foliate baluster descends to a circular foot embellished with a radiating leaf pattern. A later inscription to the left of the spout has been removed, and the firescale restored.

    Details

    Dimensions

    45 x 33 cm (17 11/16 x 13 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1996.240

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Castor and Pollux

    about 1847

    Horatio Greenough, American, 1805–1852

    Description

    Greenough, born in Boston, was the first American sculptor to study in Italy. He traveled to Rome in 1825 and settled in Florence, where he trained with Lorenzo Bartolini, who encouraged his students to study human anatomy and to sketch from live models. In classical mythology, Castor and Pollux were twins. Castor was killed in battle, but the god Zeus allowed them to spend alternate days on earth, greeting each other in passing. In this work, Greenough clearly referred to ancient art. He represented the legend in low relief, arranging the figures and horses into a perfectly balanced oval; he also carved the wooden pedestal.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 88 x 114.8 x 4.4cm (34 5/8 x 45 3/16 x 1 3/4in.)

    Medium

    Marble,with original black walnut frame

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    92.2642

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Buffet

    about 1800

    Attributed to Pierre Antoine Petit dit La Lumière, died 1815

    Description

    By the late seventeenth century, French explorers had traversed what would become the state of Indiana, and by the end of the eighteenth century, French fur-trading posts and small settlements dotted the landscape of the Mississippi River's upper valley, a large territory known as the Illinois Country. Vincennes was the principal settlement in the area. Its population of more than four hundred residents lived a surprisingly refined style of life that included silver spoons, jewelry, and silk clothing. Settled largely by immigrants from French Canada, Vincennes retained a distinctly French character in its architecture and material culture into the early nineteenth century.

    This buffet is strongly reminiscent of French provincial furniture made in Normandy and elsewhere at a much earlier date. Its sturdy construction and decorative detail, including the form of the paneled doors, the carved sunburst ornament in the center of the skirt, and the shape of the curved skirt and feet, clearly align it with the style of Louis XV. It is fashioned, however, from local woods and retains its original finish of red ocher (iron oxide) paint enriched with streaks of a darker pigment.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    117.47 x 121.92 x 61.59 cm (46 1/4 x 48 x 24 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Yellow-poplar, curly maple, sycamore

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1989.50

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Pot

    about 1855–59

    J. and E. Norton Pottery, active 1850–1859

    Description

    For more than a hundred years, beginning in the late eighteenth century, the potteries of Bennington, Vermont, produced substantial quantities of utilitarian ceramics in various forms. The Norton Pottery, founded by cousins Julius and Edward Norton, made this stoneware pot for the storage of foodstuffs in the late 1850s. It is stamped with their factory mark and the number 4, indicating its capacity in gallons. Edward Norton was a persuasive salesman, and Norton wares were retailed through stores in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, and even as far afield as Galveston, Texas.

    Improvements in pottery making enabled the Norton Pottery to make cylindrical (in addition to ovoid) forms by 1850. This advancement, involving the use of revolving molds called "jiggers" and "jollies" that allowed for the turning of circular vessels, may have stimulated a concomitant change in decoration, as the flatter surfaces of the resulting objects were easier to embellish. Alternatively, the desire for more richly ornamented objects-perhaps needed to catch the eye in an increasingly competitive marketplace-may have led to the technological developments. Whatever the relationship, the result was an efflorescence of painted Bennington pottery in the 1850s.

    The itinerant artist John Hilfinger may have painted the cobalt blue images on this pot, rendering a spotted standing stag and resting doe amid fences and foliage. Born in Württemberg, Germany, Hilfinger came to America in the mid-nineteenth century, and during his career he decorated ceramics from Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York potteries in his characteristic exuberant manner. As a blend of Yankee technology and immigrant artistry, the Norton pot is an outstanding expression of a common melding of influences in American decorative arts.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    30.48 x 33.02 x 33.02 cm (12 x 13 x 13 in.)

    Medium

    Stoneware with cobalt-blue decoration

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Stoneware

    Accession Number

    1993.546

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Storage jar

    1857

    Dave Drake (or Dave the Potter), American, about 1800–about...

    Description

    Large bulbous food storage jar with open neck, handles on each side, brown alkaline glaze with irregular greenish streaks.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height: 48.3 cm (19 in.) Diam.: 45.1 cm (17 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Stoneware with alkaline glaze

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Stoneware

    Accession Number

    1997.10

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Peacock weather vane

    about 1860–75

    Description

    Perched delicately on a round ball, this striking peacock weather vane formed a strong sculptural silhouette against the sky. Its head, featuring a pierced eye and pointed beak, is topped by a stylized tripartite comb. The long curving neck descends gracefully to the body, where the thin legs and talons grasp the ball support. The flat, ribbed tail provides a wide expanse of metal that would effectively catch the wind, and the hollow body, made of molded copper sheets soldered together, is painted gold to protect the vane from the elements. Although such details would hardly have been visible from ground level, the artisan delicately applied paint to the body and the tail in imitation of feathers. The iron rod originally would have also supported iron letters indicating the cardinal points of north, south, east, and west.

    In a world in which changes in wind speed and direction were often the best indicators of a coming storm, weather vanes served a useful as well as ornamental purpose. They were a common sight in the early United States, mounted atop churches, civic buildings, and domestic residences. Although they could be fashioned in almost any form, many weather vanes depicted creatures of the natural world, including codfish, horses, goats, sheep, cows, and grasshoppers. The maker of this weather vane is not known, but the influential New York dealer of folk and modern art Edith Halpert found it and two related examples in Vermont sometime between 1929 and 1953.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 50.2 x 85.7 cm (19 3/4 x 33 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Copper; painted gold; iron rod

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    54.1089

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Carousel figure of a greyhound

    about 1905–10

    Charles I. D. Looff, 1852–1918

    Description

    During the heyday of the carousel (or merry-go-round) as a popular form of American entertainment, from the 1890s into at least the 1920s, as many as three thousand carousels were installed at amusement parks across the country. Many of the finest carvers of carousel animals were German immigrants, including Charles Looff, whose name is stamped on the belly of this colorful, imposing greyhound.
    Looff was born in Schleswig-Holstein on the border between Denmark and Germany and moved to New York in 1870 as a young man of eighteen. He found employment first as a furniture carver, and, according to tradition, carved carousel figures in the evenings as a hobby. Within five years, he opened his first carousel at Coney Island, and in 1880 he established a carousel factory in Brooklyn. The plant remained in operation there until Looff shifted his headquarters to the Crescent Park Hippodrome in Riverside, Rhode Island, about 1904-5. This greyhound is marked "Riverside" and was thus made there between 1905 and 1910, when Looff moved his factory to California.

    Looff's factories produced an extensive menagerie of animals, including a small number of greyhounds-perhaps only a dozen-all said to be modeled on a family pet. This example is a large "stander," used on the outer ring of the carousel. Its "romance" side (the side exposed to the outside as the carousel rotates counterclockwise) is richly embellished with carved details, applied tassels, and cut-glass decoration. When acquired by the Museum, the greyhound was painted dark brown and covered with a thick layer of varnish. A painstaking process of conservation removed about fourteen layers of paint (carousel figures were exposed to the weather and thus repainted frequently), revealing the original polychrome painted surface and other details.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    137.16 x 38.1 x 185.42 cm (54 x 15 x 73 in.)

    Medium

    Painted wood; glass

    Classification

    Figurines

    Accession Number

    1992.267

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Wardrobe

    about 1870

    Heinrich Kuenemann II, 1843–1914

    Description

    By the 1840s, a wave of German immigration had spread to the Hill Country of Texas, virtually on the border of Comanche territory. The population of some towns, including Fredericksburg in Gillespie County, was about 85 percent German in the 1860s. Like English joiners in seventeenth-century New England, many Texas German woodworkers initially attempted to replicate the conditions of their mother country, producing furniture in the Biedermier style (popular in Germany and Austria, and to a lesser extent elsewhere, from the 1820s to the 1840s, featuring simple, clean lines, restrained ornament, and, often, light-colored woods such as maple). Soon, however, societal influences-among them migration and improved postal and communication systems-led to changes in the materials and design of their work.

    Heinrich Kuenemann, one of at least ten woodworkers in Fredericksburg, was born in Steterdorf, Hanover, Germany, and arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1845 as a two-year-old. He married Dorothea Elisabeth Tatsch on January 3, 1869, thus becoming the son-in-law of Johann Peter Tatsch, a well-known Prussian-born woodworker with whom Kuenemann may have served his apprenticeship. Tatsch gave the newlyweds a large wardrobe that surely inspired Kuenemann when he fashioned this example.

    Kuenemann's imposing joined wardrobe, or Kleiderschrank, is an architectonic type of bedroom storage furniture favored by continental Europeans. Although the piece is Germanic in form, its mass-produced ornament, including the roundel in the cornice, the drawer pulls, and the applied rope-turned spindles at the sides, is evocative of the Renaissance and Elizabethan revival furniture made in Midwestern factories and imported into Texas at the time. Its creation from southern yellow pine, however, immediately identifies the wardrobe as a distinctly local product. The dramatic curly pine panels selected for the doors and drawer fronts present a dazzling optical effect, reminiscent of Baroque furniture made some two centuries earlier. This complex blend of attributes reflects, in three-dimensional form, the social and cultural factors that characterized life in the Hill Country in the 1870s.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    221.61 x 143.51 x 59.69 cm (87 1/4 x 56 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Southern yellow pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1990.483

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • San Ysidro Labrador

    about 2000

    Raymond López, American, born in 1961 American

    Description

    Santos (devotional images of saints made for Catholic churches and homes) are one of the oldest living traditions in Hispanic American art. They have been fashioned in three principal forms: bultos (painted wood sculptures, as here), retablos (painted wood panels), and ex-votos (painted images on tin-plated sheets of iron). Examples were imported into New Mexico from Spain and Mexico before 1600, and by the eighteenth century bultos and retablos were also produced there by local santeros, who developed a distinctive New Mexican style. That tradition has been maintained into the twenty-first century by a vibrant community of New Mexico artists that continues to create not only colorful santos, but furniture, textiles, paintings, tinwork, straw appliqué, and other objects in the Spanish colonial mode as well.

    This image of the patron saint of farmers, San Ysidro Labradór (or Saint Isidore the Farmer, or the Laborer), was carved by furniture maker and santero Raymond López of Sante Fe. His work was first exhibited in 1993 at Spanish Market, a longstanding annual festival held in Sante Fe and sponsored by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. A number of stories and legends concern Ysidro, a Spanish farmer who died in 1130. In one, as depicted here, an angel is helping him with his plowing. In another story, he is said to have caused a fountain of fresh water to spring from the ground to assuage his master's thirst. Such a miraculous talent made San Ysidro a particularly meaningful image to residents of perpetually arid New Mexico.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.2 x 29.2 x 57.2 cm (17 x 11 1/2 x 22 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Painted and carved wood

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2006.1923

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Chalice and paten

    1855

    Cooper & Fisher, active 1854–1862

    Description

    The chalice stands on a splayed foot with applied
    twisted-chain edging and pierced quatrefoils on the applied vertical section of the foot. Lobed hexagonal sections rising from the foot contain three engraved panels with champlevé enamel in opaque blue, white, and translucent red that depict the Crucifixion, Pentecost, and Baptism of Christ. Interspersed within these are three panels engraved with the images of St. George slaying the dragon; St. John the Evangelist; and the martyrdom of a kneeling bearded man at the hands of a soldier. The figure may be St. Alban, Protomartyr of England.
    The openwork stem consists of six twisted wire columns around a central pierced shaft; central baluster is chased with a cluster of prunts in the form of arches and quatrefoils.
    The silver-gilt bowl (which has been regilded), with stylized floral engraving below the lip, is set in a silver calyx having egg-shaped reserves that reveal the bowl; the calyx framework is chased with the images of six angels whose outspread wings form spandrels between the reserves and below the gadrooned rim. Each angel displays an emblem of the Passion of Christ. Foliage is affixed between bowl and stem.

    The round shallow paten with worn gilding has a raised circular boss at center, on which has been applied a champlevé portrait bust of the Pantocrator, that of Christ wearing the royal crown and halo and holding the orb, with right hand raised, right forefinger extended. Surrounding the enamel is a simple engraved border leading to a broad rim ornamented with Gothic text against matte strapwork; a gadrooned edge surrounds the whole.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (Chalice): 25.1 x 14 cm, 0.9 kg (9 7/8 x 5 1/2 in., 2 lb.) Overall (Paten): 1.3 x 24.1 cm, 0.5 kg (1/2 x 9 1/2 in., 1 lb.)

    Medium

    Silver, silver-gilt, enamel

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1996.27.1-2

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Cruet holder or "magic caster"

    1857–71

    Roswell Gleason and Sons, American, active 1851–1871

    Description

    Marked "PATENTED DEC. 1 1857" in arch at top. Doors revolve open with a twist of the knob, revealing glass cruet bottles in interior compartments.

    Details

    Dimensions

    55.88 x 22.22 x 22.22 cm (22 x 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver plate, cut glass

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1984.23

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Table

    1850–57

    Alexander Roux, about 1813–1886

    Description

    Alexander Roux was one of the elite New York cabinetmakers of French and German descent who supplied high-style furniture in the latest fashions to wealthy patrons in New York and beyond. Having emigrated from France in 1835, Roux quickly established his business, first as an upholsterer and then as a cabinetmaker, alongside other purveyors of luxury goods in the elegant Broadway shopping district. He made furniture in the French styles in vogue during the mid-nineteenth century, emphasizing his French training and ancestry in his advertising. Architect Andrew Jackson Downing singled out Roux's work for praise in his landmark 1850 book The Architecture of Country Houses, writing: "At the warehouse of M. A. Roux, Broadway, may be found a large collection of furniture for the drawing-room, library, etc.-the most tasteful designs of Louis Quatorze, Renaissance, Gothic, etc., to be found in the country. . . ."

    This elegant table with exquisite carving in high relief displays Roux's free handling of a variety of French styles drawn from Rococo Revival and Renaissance sources. It bears his stenciled label-"From / A. Roux / French / Cabinet Maker / Nos. 479 & 481 Broadway / New York"-advertising not only his business location but also his fashionably French origins.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 80 x 137.2 x 61.6 cm (31 1/2 x 54 x 24 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Rosewood, rosewood veneer

    Classification

    Furniture , Tables, Stands, and Screens

    Accession Number

    1983.325

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Ewer

    about 1860

    Eoff and Shepard, American, 1852–1861 American

    Description

    The raised body of the pitcher is an inverted pear-shape with a long tapered neck and high drawn spout. There is a large cast double-curved handle and raised, splayed foot. Applied rope-like beading extends around the spout's outer edge. A ringlet of "waves" at the top of the base cradles the body of the "vessel" as a ripple of frothy tide on the shoulder articulates the passage from body to neck. Applied 3-dimensional anchors ride at either side of the shoulder with their chain held up by a cast and applied female figure at the front. An engraved panel in front is surrounded by a repousséd and chased cartouche of watery scrolls couched in a patch of cattails. It is flanked by vignettes of sea nymphs and dolphins on the sides of the vessel with oak branches toward the back near the joining of the handle. The lower portion of the body and stem of the foot are ribbed in imitation of waves with alternating applied oval and leafy rosettes. The rim of the flared foot is alive with repousséd and chased aquatic and vegetal motifs and alternating cast and applied dolphin heads and seashells. The double C-scroll handle is joined to the body just under the lip with applied coral-like fronds. Its larger top section is simulates cresting waves and is surmounted by a cast and applied sailor figure. In the lower section, a small scroll terminates in a dolphin's head attached to the body at the shoulder.

    Details

    Dimensions

    49.5 x 24 x 19 cm (19 1/2 x 9 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1977.620

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sideboard

    1850–60

    Ignatius Lutz, American (born in France), 1817–1860

    Description

    The lavish, naturalistic carving on this massive sideboard-including a stag's head, dead game birds, bulging clusters of fruits, and grotesque animal faces-may be unsettling to viewers today. However, to affluent Americans of the 1850s and 1860s, this imposing object signified the owner's wealth and power, and its emblems of hunt and harvest celebrated abundance and prosperity. The sideboard's fine workmanship and large scale created a dramatic presence in the dining room, where it displayed costly silver objects and set the scene for elaborate dining rituals. In a metaphoric sense, as scholar Kenneth L. Ames has argued, sideboards like this one represented the transformation of hunting and eating into a refined and domesticated experience and thus symbolized for their owners the triumph of human civilization over the natural world.

    Sideboards trace their form, function, and iconography to noble homes in Europe, where such pieces had been in use since the fifteenth century. The seminal examples of nineteenth-century sideboards with dining-related carvings originated in France, as did many of the immigrant craftsmen who produced similar works in the United States. Ignatius Lutz was one of several French-trained cabinetmakers who dominated the high-end furniture trade in America, bringing European styles and craftsmanship to a wealthy and fashionable clientele. Lutz's shop, employing thirty craftsmen, was among the largest in Philadelphia and relied upon handwork rather than power machinery to produce masterpieces such as this sideboard.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 238.8 x 188 x 63.5 cm (94 x 74 x 25 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, yellow-poplar, marble

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1990.1

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Painted bedstead with canopy

    about 1855

    Heywood Bro. & Company

    Description

    American painted furniture encompasses elegant, high-style objects such as the Thomas Seymour commode painted by John Ritto Penniman (23.19), vernacular furniture such as Pennsylvania German blanket chests, and a wide range of styles in between. This bedstead is a particularly grand example of the middle-class cottage furniture popularized in the 1850s by illustrations in the widely circulating magazine Godey's Lady's Book. Architect and tastemaker Andrew Jackson Downing, in his seminal 1850 publication The Architecture of Country Houses, described cottage furniture as "remarkable for its combination of lightness and strength, and its essentially cottage-like character. It is very highly finished . . . Some of the better sets have groups of flowers or other designs painted upon them with artistic skill."

    Heywood Brothers made this bedstead for Levi Heywood, the president of the company. It was crafted of inexpensive pine, like other cottage furniture, but its painted decoration-attributed (according to company tradition) to the English-born brothers Thomas and Edward Hill-is exceptionally rich and elaborate. The ebonized surface is ornamented with hand-painted fruit and floral still life arrangements surrounded by Rococo Revival gilt borders. The landscape paintings on the headboard are of particular interest, as the Hill brothers went on to become distinguished painters of the American West and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    224.79 x 161.29 x 214.63 cm (88 1/2 x 63 1/2 x 84 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Painted pine

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1978.305

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sappho

    1863

    William Wetmore Story, American, 1819–1895 American

    Description

    The subject of this sculpture, Sappho of Lesbos, the sixth-century-B.C. Greek poet, was a virtual Rohrschach test for nineteenth-century intellectuals, who often interpreted what little is actually known of her life and work to reflect their own predilections. For example, one journal stated in 1859 that Sappho was of "warm poetic temperament, of great lyric power, of voluptuous, passionate yearnings, and of many moral shortcomings." William Wetmore Story saw her differently and chose to portray her in a calm, ideal pose. Seated in a klismos chair, she contemplates throwing herself off a cliff into the sea after her rejection by the Greek ferryman Phaon. A wilting rose, a symbol of failed love, droops across her unstrung lyre, contributing to the mood of listless reverie.

    Story was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and raised in Cambridge. He was the son of Joseph Story, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and law professor at Harvard University. Although he followed his father into the legal profession, earning a law degree in 1840, his real interests lay in art, music, and literature. After his father's death in 1845, a committee of Cambridge citizens invited him to create a memorial to his father for Mount Auburn Cemetery. Having no experience in making monumental sculpture, Story moved with his family to Rome to study portrait memorials. The monument to his father was completed and accepted in 1853, and Story returned to his law practice in Boston in 1855. The next year, however, he permanently abandoned the legal profession and settled his family in Rome. He began producing idealized sculptures of literary and mythological subjects, but his work received little recognition until his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne used Story's sculpture of Cleopatra as the subject of his novel The Marble Faun, published in 1860.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 137.5 x 85.1 x 84.1 cm, 952.55 kg (54 1/8 x 33 1/2 x 33 1/8 in., 2100 lb.) Block (White marble base (recessed into the wooden skirt)): 7.3 x 86 x 85.1 cm (2 7/8 x 33 7/8 x 33 1/2 in.) Overall: 94 cm (37 in.) Mount (Rolling steel base - 3/4" thick painted wooden skirts): 39.7 x 116.2 x 117.2 cm (15 5/8 x 45 3/4 x 46 1/8 in.) Other (Four steel Rollers rear locking single wheels): 14 cm (5 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Marble

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    1977.772

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Sleeping Faun

    after 1865

    Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, American, 1830–1908

    Description

    Exhibited before millions of visitors at international exhibitions, Harriet Hosmer's depiction of an inebriated faun sprawled against a tree stump was one of her most highly acclaimed works. Contemporary critics agreed that Hosmer had captured the graceful curves and sensual finishes of Greek Hellenistic sculpture in the adolescent faun's perfect proportions, smooth skin, and languorous pose, while at the same time evoking a mood of playfulness and whimsy. The bunch of grapes and the panpipe littered on the ground refer to the faun's merry carousing, and his pointed ears and tiger-skin drapery indicate his animalistic nature. In counterpoint to his peaceful sleep, a mischievous satyr ties the faun to the tree stump with the ends of the tiger skin. Hosmer employed tremendous carving skill to create the varied textures of the faun's sensual body, the rough tiger skin, the mossy forest floor, the firm grapes, and the satyr's thick, curly hair.

    One of the nineteenth century's most accomplished female artists, Hosmer received a progressive education at a boarding school in Lenox, Massachusetts, where her mentors encouraged her to seek a way of life not bound by then current conventions of womanhood. She began studying sculpture in the United States but moved to Rome in 1852 to advance her education, becoming the first American woman sculptor to do so. There, she studied with England's leading Neoclassical sculptor, John Gibson. By the mid-1850s Hosmer's work was received warmly by critics, and she became a colorful figure in American and European artistic circles, known for her unorthodox lifestyle. In a testimonial to her own independence, Hosmer remarked in 1868, "I honor every woman who has strength enough to step outside the beaten path when she feels that her walk lies in another; strength enough to stand up and be laughed at, if necessary."

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 87.6 x 104.1 x 41.9 cm, 589.7 kg (34 1/2 x 41 x 16 1/2 in., 1300 lb.)

    Medium

    Marble

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    12.709

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Goblet

    about 1860–75

    Louis F. Vaupel, American (born in Germany), 1824–1903 American

    Description

    Cobalt-blue cased glass bowl on baluster stem and circular foot. Panels of horse and wolves, lions attacking buffalo are on bowl.

    Details

    Dimensions

    15.87 x 7.62 x 7.62 cm (6 1/4 x 3 x 3 in.)

    Medium

    Blown, cobalt-blue cased glass, cut and engraved

    Classification

    Glass

    Accession Number

    61.1219

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Cabinet

    about 1873–75

    Nelson Gustafson, active 1873–1875

    Description

    This piece embodies the idea that “more is more.” Designed to convey their owners’ wealth and taste, such cabinets were used to display equally sumptuous works of art, such as elaborate clocks or vases. All of New York’s leading cabinetmakers made similar pieces, which were called “French cabinets,” as they were based (loosely) on French courtly styles of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. This cabinet integrates--among other elements--classically inspired columns, Italian Renaissance-style marquetry panels and console brackets, and a French porcelain plaque with a French-inspired metal surround.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 143.5 x 179.1 x 41.9 cm (56 1/2 x 70 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, rosewood, exotic woods, porcelain and bronze plaques

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1981.400

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Mildred Howells

    1898

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American (born in Ireland), 1848–1907

    Description

    Bronze relief portrait profile. Has original frame.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (frame): 78.7 x 73.7 cm (31 x 29 in.) Other (diameter of bronze): 53.3 cm (21 in.)

    Medium

    Bronze, brown patina, lost-wax cast

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    57.558

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Head of Victory

    after 1907

    Artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American (born in Ireland),...

    Description

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the leading sculptor of the American Renaissance. Apprenticed to a New York cameo cutter, Saint-Gaudens later studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He collaborated on important commissions with the famed architects Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, and Stanford White and is perhaps best known for his pathbreaking work in bronze.

    The Head of Victory is one of several studies for Saint-Gaudens's last great public sculpture, the Sherman Monument, commissioned by the State of New York for the Grand Army Plaza in New York City and completed in 1903. A much-praised equestrian sculpture, the monument depicts General Tecumseh Sherman led by a winged figure of Victory. At his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire, Saint-Gaudens revised the head of Victory several times, even while the monument was being cast. He later produced bronze casts, including this one, of the head's second version. Noted American artist Kenyon Cox wrote of the Victory figure on the Sherman Monument: "She has a certain fierce wildness of aspect, but her rapt gaze and half-open mouth indicate the seer of visions[:] peace is ahead and an end of war."

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (includes marble base): 31.8 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm (12 1/2 x 7 x 6 1/2 in.) Overall (bronze figure only): 20.3 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm (8 x 7 x 6 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Bronze, green-brown patina, lost-wax cast; marble base

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    1977.600

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Dying Centaur

    1869

    William Rimmer, American (born in England), 1816–1879 American

    Description

    The powerful musculature and complex pose of the Dying Centaur reveal William Rimmer's unusual background as a physician and self-taught artist. The son of a cobbler who believed he was a lost descendant of French royalty, Rimmer grew up in Boston, where he displayed an early aptitude for art and dabbled in a variety of trades. While pursuing a painting career as a young man, he studied anatomy and soon began his own practice as a self-taught physician in Brockton and later in Milton, Massachusetts. His early and untutored experiments in sculpture caught the attention of Stephen H. Perkins, a wealthy Boston patron who came to champion Rimmer's career. Rimmer soon gained a measure of fame as a sculptor and art teacher noted for his understanding of human anatomy.

    Dying Centaur depicts a familiar mythological subject without the classical restraint and calm of contemporary Neoclassical sculpture. Rimmer portrayed the sprawling figure in a moment of physical and spiritual anguish, one truncated arm extended heavenward as if imploring aid from the gods. The figure's raw emotion may reflect the influence of French artist Antoine-Louis Barye's romantic and violent animal sculptures, popular at this time. The work may also be an autobiographical statement about Rimmer's own melancholy, expressing his feelings of isolation and disappointment at the lack of adequate recognition during his lifetime. Immediately after his death, the Rimmer Memorial Committee selected Dying Centaur as the first of his compositions to be cast in bronze, and in 1880 the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, held an important memorial exhibition of the artist's work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 53.3 x 61cm (21 x 24in.) Other (Overall): 68.6cm (27in.)

    Medium

    Plaster

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    RES.19.127

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Punch bowl (set with ladle)

    1885

    Gorham Manufacturing Company, active 1865–1961

    Description

    This raised bowl exhibits a chased swirling image of sea life, with waves, fish, seaweed, and other aquatic elements. The rim is encircled with a cast silver border imitating coral and applied shells, crabs, and seaweed. Similar ornamentation appears on the raised and soldered foot. Two large cast scallop shells, encrusted with cast seaweed, serve as handles. Traces of gilt can be found throughout the bowl’s surface. The ladle has gilt accents and is made up of cast elements: a scallop shell bowl, oyster shell terminus, and applied sea-life ornamentation on the handle.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 25.7 x 38.7 x 17.8 x 23.5 cm (10 1/8 x 15 1/4 x 7 x 9 1/4 in.) Other: 3500 gm

    Medium

    Silver, gilding

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1980.383

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • "Peonies Blown in the Wind" window

    1886

    John La Farge, American, 1835–1910

    Description

    The mid-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, which sparked an interest in medieval arts, and the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which emphasized artistic unity in interior decoration, both popularized and secularized stained glass and elevated its importance as an art form. Although the majority of stained glass used in the United States was imported from England and made in a traditional manner, American artists John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany separately, yet simultaneously, experimented with new techniques and designs that offered remarkable, unconventional qualities of texture and color.

    La Farge's most important contribution to the art of stained glass was his use of opalescent glass (which he claimed to have invented) in multiple layers to create variegated hues and dramatic effects of depth. Unlike traditional stained glass, in which the artist painted the flat surface to render details and shading, La Farge's windows achieve the effects of shading and three-dimensionality through the layering and shaping of the glass itself. For greater textural effect, he often used an outer layer that had a corrugated appearance produced by compressing or stamping sheets of hot glass. Many of his works incorporated chunks or pebbles of glass-or even cut, faceted glass nuggets-to refract light, as seen in the jewel-like border of this example.

    This extraordinary window, one of five incorporating the Japanese-inspired peony design, was made for the studio of British painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Jean Guiffrey, a former curator at the Louvre who helped the MFA acquire the window in 1913, wrote that "La Farge has worked out the shape and shading of every one of the flowers' delicate petals solely by this process of varying the thickness of the glass. Before this could be done, he had first to sculpture the flowers and then make his final design in glass from the original carved model. It was work requiring the rarest technique and skill."

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other (no frame/glass only): (59 3/16 x 40 3/8 in.) Overall (w/original wood frame): (64 3/4 x 45 13/16 x 1 5/16 in.) Flat molding of frame from outer edge up to inside round molding = 2 3/4 in wide all sides

    Medium

    Leaded stained and opalescent glass

    Classification

    Glass

    Accession Number

    13.2802

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Cabinet

    about 1880

    Herter Brothers, American, 1865–1905

    Description

    Large rectangular cabinet supported on four short front legs terminating in animal-paw feet and four straight rear legs; main body of cabinet contains an arched niche at each side, with a small drawer above and below, flanking a central door with inlaid Asian motifs, including irises, flowers, reeds, dragonflies, and a painted butterfly, and with a bird's-eye maple panel at top; carved and pierced panel below cupboard; lower section with a flat, slightly projecting top with molded edge; upper section includes a large box at center decorated at front with carved and gilt columns; splash board has rounded ends and, along with the entire back, is covered with stamped gilt paper with painted/stenciled rosettes; brass mounts, pulls, and key.

    Details

    Dimensions

    133.35 x 184.78 x 38.42 cm (52 1/2 x 72 3/4 x 15 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Maple, bird's-eye maple, oak or chestnut, stamped and gilt paper, with gilding, inlay, and carved decoration; original brass pulls and key

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    2000.3

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Armchair for the Woburn Pubilc Library

    about 1878

    Probably designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, American, 1838–1886

    Description

    One of America's most influential architects of the nineteenth century, Henry Hobson Richardson is best known for his original interpretation of early medieval building styles in modern architecture; he himself described the style as "a free rendering of the French Romanesque." As an important figure in the design-reform movement of the period, he designed furnishings and interiors integrated with the overall architectural scheme of his libraries, churches, and other public buildings. For the Woburn Public Library (sometimes called Winn Memorial Library) in Woburn, Massachusetts-the first of several public library commissions, constructed from 1876 to 1879-Richardson designed this chair to harmonize with the curved lines of the wooden barrel-vaulted ceiling in the book room and the picturesque, neo-medieval style of the building.

    The chair reveals the influence of British architects and design reformers, including Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Bruce Talbert, William Morris, and others who advocated a return to the "honest" design principles of medieval furniture. Richardson intended its solid oak frame with chamfered, or angled, edges and deliberately exposed joinery to suggest the sturdy character of medieval furniture so admired by the English reformers. The chair's curving, crossed members and pared-down structure may be indebted to Gothic-inspired designs by Pugin and Talbert, including X-frame chairs and tables. Nevertheless, Richardson's chair was an original form, which despite its massive scale is visually lightened by its spare carved ornament and its unusual cantilevered arms.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 85.4 x 74.9 x 71.1 cm (33 5/8 x 29 1/2 x 28 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, leather

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    61.236

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Pitcher

    1893

    Rookwood Pottery Company, active 1880–1967

    Description

    The Rookwood Pottery was one of the earliest and most successful art potteries in the United States. Amateur artist and heiress Maria Longworth Nichols established Rookwood in 1880 after admiring the high quality of Japanese and Chinese ceramics at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. She wanted to create an "art industry" to encourage creativity, experimentation, and beauty in American manufacturing. From its beginnings as a small workshop where wealthy women and other amateurs painted simple shapes, the pottery evolved into a large-scale producer of many different styles and patterns.

    By 1883, Nichols hired William Watts Taylor to manage Rookwood. Within several years Taylor had transformed the operation into a profit-making commercial venture. He developed a standard glaze of earth tones and marketed the pottery as fine art, emphasized by artist signatures on each piece. This pitcher, painted with a blend of warm brown, yellow, red, and green and signed "CAB" by decorator Constance Amelia Baker, is an excellent example of "Standard Rookwood." In addition, this piece is embellished with swirling silver overlay by the Gorham Manufacturing Company. Rookwood forged a relationship with Gorham in an attempt to enliven its wares for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The collaboration was short-lived, perhaps because the painted designs and the silver ornament rarely complemented one another, as illustrated by the competing floral and vegetal motifs on this pitcher.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    16.8 x 21 x 15.2 cm (6 5/8 x 8 1/4 x 6 in.)

    Medium

    White earthenware, decorated with brown, yellow, green, and blue slip and covered with transparent glossy glaze; silver deposit decoration

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    1989.200

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Cabinet

    1902–05

    Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony, active 1902–1905

    Description

    The large cabinet (or linen press) has a slightly projecting top above a cove molding. The upper section contains a wide horizontal cupboard door, hinged at the proper right and with a keyhole escutcheon at proper left, and with a central panel carved with tulip-poplar leaves and flowers, stained in various shades of brown and yellow. The lower section contains a pair of vertical cupboard doors, again hinged at the outside and each with a keyhole escutcheon at center, and each with a central vertical panel outlined with carved and stained ornament related to the door above. The lowest tier contains a wide drawer with a keyhole escutcheon at center and a pair of applied metal pulls. The cabinet is of framed construction, and the legs are formed by slightly flaring extensions of the stiles. The frame is covered wth a dark greenish-black stain.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 184.8 x 138.7 x 63.2 cm (72 3/4 x 54 5/8 x 24 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Oak with polychrome stained and carved panels, yellow poplar, original brass hardware

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    2003.61

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Hanging lantern (one of a pair)

    about 1903–08

    Designed by Dard Hunter, American, 1883–1966 American

    Description

    Unfulfilled by running a soap company in Buffalo, New York, Elbert Hubbard quit his job and searched for inspiration, first at Harvard, then on a walking tour of England. Hubbard found his muse when he visited Williams Morris's Kelmscott Press, which produced beautiful, artful editions of Morris's own writings, and works by the leading authors of the period. Stimulated by Morris's ideas, Hubbard returned to the United States, founded a printing press to publish his own writings and established Roycroft, a utopian artist community in East Aurora, New York. Hubbard's charismatic personality attracted talented artisans to his workshops, while his business acumen promoted their wares using mass-marketing methods.

    This three-light lantern is one of twelve that hung in the dining hall of the Roycroft Inn, built in 1903 for visitors who came to observe and purchase goods from the community. Designed by Dard Hunter and made by Karl Kipp, head of the Roycroft Copper Shop, the lantern illustrates the strong Viennese influence on many of Roycroft's products. Hunter, a young and talented designer, eagerly studied English and German publications, which included the work of the budding Vienna Secession. This exposure is evident in the geometric design of the lantern, accented by glass squares of varying colors.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 76.2 x 40.6 x 15.2 cm (30 x 16 x 6 in.)

    Medium

    Copper, nickel silver, stained glass, leather

    Classification

    Tools & equipment , Lighting Devices

    Accession Number

    1980.279

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Tile

    designed about 1906, made about 1906-20

    Designed by Addison B. LeBoutillier, Born in France, 1872–1951

    Description

    Ceramics innovator William H. Grueby's style of "organic naturalism" transformed the direction of art pottery in the United States and abroad. His vegetal forms are articulated by subtle tooling and finished with opaque, dripping glazes that blurred the line between form and surface decoration. Although best known today for three-dimensional forms, Grueby began his career making architectural tiles. Tiles remained the foundation of his company's production, and a new line of interior Arts and Crafts-inspired decorative tiles introduced about 1902 reinvigorated the company's flagging sales. Grueby's new designer, illustrator Addison B. LeBoutillier, created the line using flat, stylized designs of flowers, trees, animals, and ships that reduced the image to abstract pattern.

    This large tile is adapted from an eight-tile frieze LeBoutillier designed in 1906 called "The Pines." Using an ancient Moorish process, the clay was impressed with the design, forming channels with low walls that kept Grueby's characteristic thick glazes separate. The tile combines LeBoutillier's drafting skills with Grueby's variety of color tone and texture, resulting in a stylized scene with a soft surface that typifies the best works of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    2.54 x 31.11 x 31.11 cm (1 x 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Pressed and glazed earthenware

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    65.215

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Bowl

    1910–15

    Marblehead Pottery, active 1904–1936

    Description

    Wheel-thrown earthenware with incised and matte glaze decoration

    Details

    Dimensions

    9.84 x 27.3 x 27.3 cm (3 7/8 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Wheel-thrown earthenware with incised and glazed decoration

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    1990.508

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Vase

    1914

    Designed by Arthur Stone, American, born in England, 1847–1938

    Description

    The raised vase tapers gently outward and then quickly inward at the rim. An ornamental band of latticework is punctuated with floral cartouches alternating with single rose stems that extend above and below the band. A scalloped line creates the divisions for the flat fluting, which is terminated by two sets of scored lines above the splayed foot.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 19.7 x 11.3 cm (7 3/4 x 4 7/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1978.234

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston's North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood's branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls "off the streets" and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery's mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment.

    Sara Galner, a Jeweish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the SEG library club in her early teens, hiding her books from her disapproving parents. Galner joined the pottery in its nascent years and continued to work there until her marriage in 1921, occasionally running the pottery's retail stores in downtown Boston and Washington, D.C. Her painted designs reveal the pottery's shift in glazes, color palettes, and patterns, and her own maturation as a decorator. Identified by her initials on the base, the large bowl featuring animated geese (2007.366), and this detailed tea caddy, which seems to tell a story about the rural cottage surrounded by trees, are among the finest examples of both Galner's and the pottery's work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 11.1 x 7.6 x 7.6 cm (4 3/8 x 3 x 3 in.)

    Medium

    Earthenware with glaze

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    2007.365

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Goose bowl

    November 1914

    Paul Revere Pottery of the Saturday Evening Girls club, active...

    Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston's North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood's branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls "off the streets" and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery's mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment.

    Sara Galner, a Jeweish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the SEG library club in her early teens, hiding her books from her disapproving parents. Galner joined the pottery in its nascent years and continued to work there until her marriage in 1921, occasionally running the pottery's retail stores in downtown Boston and Washington, D.C. Her painted designs reveal the pottery's shift in glazes, color palettes, and patterns, and her own maturation as a decorator. Identified by her initials on the base, this large bowl featuring animated geese, and the detailed tea caddy (2007.365), which seems to tell a story about the rural cottage surrounded by trees, are among the finest examples of both Galner's and the pottery's work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 12.7 x 29.5 cm (5 x 11 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Earthenware with glaze

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    2007.366

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Rabbit bowl

    December 1908

    Paul Revere Pottery of the Saturday Evening Girls club, active...

    Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston's North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood's branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls "off the streets" and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery's mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment. This child's bowl - decorated with rabbits, turtles, and the advice "The race is not always to the swift"- is one of the earliest known works produced by the pottery and shows the early, gritty surfaces that were soon replaced with high gloss glazes.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 3.8 x 15.6 cm (1 1/2 x 6 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Earthenware with glaze

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    2007.367

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Necklace

    1910–18

    Josephine Hartwell Shaw, American, 1865–1941

    Description

    Pendant of two white jade tear-shaped carvings with nine squares and three rectangular green stones on a four strand chain interrupted by four groups of five and two groups of three rectangular green stones. Carved white jade clasp.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (pendant): 10.2 x 9.2 x 0.6 cm (4 x 3 5/8 x 1/4 in.) Length (chain): 83.8 cm (33 in.)

    Medium

    Gold, jade, colored glass

    Classification

    Jewelry / Adornment , Necklaces, Neck Bands

    Accession Number

    1984.947

    Collections

    Americas , Jewelry

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Child's bed

    about 1913

    Designed by Ralph Adams Cram, American, 1863–1942 American

    Description

    Small joined bed with high, cantilevered headboard; frame-and-panel backboard decorated with a central angel; sides of headboard with diamond-piercing in lower section containing carved and gilt flower, and with carved and gilt decoration at skirt, and with engaged quarter-columns at rear with carved and gilt rosettes; upper portion of side panels contain freestanding gilt and polychrome carved angels, flanked by oval cut-outs, supporting projecting roof; roof of board and batten construction, with carved gilt inscription against blue ground on horizontal strips; low shaped sides tenoned and bolted to head- and footboards (replacing original higher sides with vertical slats); footboard with three panels and with inward facing angels and other decoration echoing headboard.

    Details

    Dimensions

    201.93 x 93.98 x 193.04 cm (79 1/2 x 37 x 76 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut with polychrome and gilt decoration, oak

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1997.210

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Candlestick

    1917

    Elizabeth Ethel Copeland, American, 1866–1957

    Description

    The silver candlestick has a square base, with each side inclining slightly toward a single square column. Each side is decorated with cloisonné enamel decoration of pansy-like flowers and leaves. Concentric circles of blue and yellow enamel form bosses that are placed midway along the length of the column. Geometric wire decoration is applied throughout, surrounding the enameled base and extending along the column shaft; each wire terminates in a spherical ball.

    Details

    Dimensions

    18.73 x 10.48 x 10.48 cm (7 3/8 x 4 1/8 x 4 1/8 in.)

    Medium

    Silver with enamel decoration

    Classification

    Metalwork

    Accession Number

    1997.56

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Punch bowl

    about 1912

    Clemens Friedell, American, 1872–1963 American

    Description

    The large hand-raised vessel has a trumped foot soldered to a broad bowl with an everted riom. Both the rim and the foot have a meandering scalloped edge rienfored wtih an applied flat exterior rim. Repoused and chased floral decoration throughout features California poppies and trailing vines. A chased depiction of a polo player on horseback appears below the presentation incription; the other reserve is flanke by mallets and penants.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other: 36.2 x 45.1 cm (14 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    2003.730

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Rocking chair

    about 1912

    Designed by George Washington Maher, American, 1864–1926

    Description

    George Washington Maher and his fellow Prairie School architects designed low, horizontal houses with long banks of windows, overhanging roofs, and coordinated furnishings. Maher took the concept of unified design even further than his contemporaries with his "motif rhythm theory," which advocated the use of a limited number of repeated elements to "bind the design together." He argued that the specific motifs should be individualized to the home, drawn from the local landscape or personal interests of his client.

    Rockledge, a summer residence built in 1912 along the Mississippi River in Homer, Minnesota, was an exemplary manifestation of Maher's theory. His chosen motifs included a segmented arch and trapezoidal guttae (an ornamental architectural detail)-simple, geometric shapes that did not overwhelm or distract from the overall design. These subtle elements reveal his exposure to and interest in the linear and geometric work of avant-garde European designers of the Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte.

    For this rocker's design, Maher used the segmented arch for the crest rail and arm supports, and trapezoidal guttae as decorative capitals on vertical posts. The imposing, architectonic form is emphasized by the wide base, tapering front-facing posts, and cornice moldings. Maher even chose the greenish brown stain of the oak to harmonize with the overall color scheme of the home, a mixture of earth tones that complemented the natural setting.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 94 x 69.9 x 85.1 cm (37 x 27 1/2 x 33 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Oak, modern leather upholstery

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1984.20

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Jeweled casket

    1929

    Edward Everett Oakes, American, 1891–1960

    Description

    The rectangular paneled box is made of silver, green gold, 143 amethysts, 18 Japanese pearls, 68 oriental pearls, and 88 onyx, set on a laurel base. It has a hinged, slightly domed lid and round and faceted amethyst ball feet and sits on a narrow, two-tiered, shaped wooden plinth. Round columns form each of the four corners. Two pairs of channel-set amethysts intersect across the lid to create nine panels, at the center of which is a large faceted, elliptical amethyst, from which radiates rays of onyx and pearls. The amethyst bands continue down the sides of the box, where they flank triangular clusters of amethysts, onyx, and pearls; large rectangular amethysts form two shallow handles on the sides as part of these designs. At the base of each corner is a vertical cluster of graduated, rectangular onyx settings with pearls and auricular metalwork. Clusters of delicate gold foliate decoration are found throughout, and large pearls are featured prominently on the lid, at intersections of the amethyst bands and on each corner.
    The box is completely finished on the interior, allowing the user to see the amethysts that adorn the exterior inside the box and lid. Additional pearls mounted with supporting gold settings adorn the lid interior. Concave onyx settings in each corner of the lid are complemented by faceted amethyst stones lodged at the top of the four corner columns. A rectangular wooden tray with silver, gold, pearl, and onyx fittings rests inside. The interior of the base, including the tray, is lined with black velvet.

    This number refers to box and its interior tray. The artist also made a walnut box in which to store the jeweled casket (unnumbered).

    Details

    Dimensions

    13.5 x 20.1 x 16.1 cm (5 5/16 x 7 15/16 x 6 5/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver, green gold, 143 amethysts, 18 Japanese pearls, 68 Oriental pearls, 88 onyx; laurel wood base

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    2000.628.1a-b

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Resting Stag

    About 1916–17

    Elie Nadelman, American, 1882–1946 American

    Description

    Figure of a resting stag with antlers, head curving backward, one front leg forward and the other bent backward.

    Details

    Dimensions

    45.7 x 53.3 x 26.7 cm (18 x 21 x 10 1/2 in.) including base

    Medium

    Bronze, original onyx base

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2002.1

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Armoire

    1926–42

    Company of Master Craftsmen for W. and J. Sloane, active 1925–1942

    Description

    In the early 1920s, many Americans, including critics, journalists, and even government officials believed that there was little or no good modern design being produced in the United States. In response to that concern, several of the nation's leading museums and department stores sought to instruct and inspire designers and improve consumer's taste by exposing them to good styles of the past and the exciting new fashions coming from Europe. In 1925, for example, New York's top furniture retailer, W. & J. Sloane, established a manufacturing subsidiary named the Company of Master Craftsmen to create affordable reproductions of antiques from a "golden age" of furniture design. Sloane collaborated with curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to make exact copies of some of the museum's furniture, calling its products "registered reproductions" and suggesting that their faithful reiteration of accepted masterpieces from the past would elevate current taste.

    At the same time, the Metropolitan Museum showcased the latest Art Deco designs in a touring exhibition of modern furniture by French designer Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann. The Company of Master Craftsmen quickly added this new, alternative source for improving the sophistication of American furniture to their repertoire. They developed adaptations of the French designs, such as this armoire, part of an en suite bedroom set. In name, form, and ornament, this piece emulates Ruhlmann's furniture. Yet its innovative and less expensive materials and construction techniques, including the use of a sprayed-on finish of newly invented cellulous nitrate lacquer as a shiny, protective top coat, demonstrate American ingenuity.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 134.6 x 92.7 x 52.1 cm (53 x 36 1/2 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Mahogany, lumber-core plywood, cherry, tulipwood, maple, rosewood, brass

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    2004.2200

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Punch bowl from the "Jazz Bowl" series

    1931

    Designer Viktor Schreckengost, American, 1906–2008

    Description

    Cowan Pottery form X-38, with flared shape.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 22.9 x 42.9 cm (9 x 16 7/8 in.)

    Medium

    Glazed porcelain with sgrafitto decoration

    Classification

    Ceramics

    Accession Number

    1990.507

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • 4 Woods (Diana)

    about 1934

    Alexander Calder, American, 1898–1976

    Description

    Although more widely known for his mobiles and wire sculptures, Alexander Calder, a third-generation sculptor, made art in many media. In his early career he made more than fifty wood sculptures reflecting the influence of the direct-carving method that such avant-garde sculptors as José de Creeft, Chaim Gross, and William Zorach were exhibiting widely.

    These artists eschewed traditional methods for making fine sculpture, in which the sculptor's original plaster model was reproduced in marble or bronze by other artisans. They preferred direct, personal engagement with the material-either wood or stone-to carve stylized figures inspired by the spare forms of American folk art, including bird decoys and weather vanes.

    Calder began making wood sculptures in the late 1920s, about the same time he started creating figurative wire sculptures. In his earliest carvings, usually animals or female figures, he allowed the distinctive grain or shape of the wood to suggest the final form; he resisted the suggestion that he produce multiple versions of his 1928 Cow sculpture, explaining, "That piece of wood turned out to be a cow, but the next one might be a cat. How do I know?" As Calder's other works became increasingly abstract in the mid-1930s, so did his wood sculptures. Diana reflects this later phase in its smooth, streamlined shapes that subtly suggest a female figure crowned by a crescent moon. Rather than being carved from a single block of wood, Diana is a "stabile" sculpture assembled from component parts that do not move but that suggest a tenuous sense of balance.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 77.5 x 45.1 x 48.9 cm (30 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut with steel pins, iron base

    Classification

    Raw materials and by-products

    Accession Number

    60.956

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Scale-model for Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial

    1949–52

    Walker Hancock, American, 1901–1998 American

    Description

    Levitating, robed angel with wings arched over head, holds deceased, bare-chested male soldier in arms. Figures rise from rectangular base. The sculpture comes apart in five sections.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 365.9 cm (12 ft.) Block (Base): 89.5 x 61.6 x 54.3 cm (35 1/4 x 24 1/4 x 21 3/8 in.) Block (top of base - with legs): 81.9 x 41.3 x 36.8 cm (32 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.) Block (Torso of angel and man): 103.5 x 38.1 cm (40 3/4 x 15 in.)

    Medium

    Painted plaster with mixed media armature

    Classification

    Sculpture

    Accession Number

    2002.377

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • DCM (Dining Chair Metal)

    designed 1945–46; made 1946–47

    Designed by Charles Eames, American, 1907–1978

    Description

    Back and seat of molded plywood shaped in compound curves. Curved chrome metal bar connects back and seat, attached with rubber shock mounts. Attached to this bar are u-shaped metal bars for front and back legs, the front being slightly longer. Feet are applied rubber and chrome pads.

    Details

    Dimensions

    74.61 x 48.89 x 50.8 cm (29 3/8 x 19 1/4 x 20 in.)

    Medium

    Ash plywood, rubber shock mounts, steel

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1975.31

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • DCW (Dining Chair Wood)

    designed 1945–46, made 1946–47

    Designed by Charles Eames, American, 1907–1978

    Description

    Back and seat of molded plywood, shaped in compound curves. A heavier C-shaped piece of plywood connects back and seat to which U-shaped back legs are connected. Front legs are slightly longer and attached to underside of seat with rubber shock mounts.

    Details

    Dimensions

    73.34 x 48.89 x 52.07 cm (28 7/8 x 19 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Plywood with walnut veneer, rubber

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1975.32

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • RAR (Rocking Armchair Rod)

    designed 1948–50; made about 1950–53

    Designed by Charles Eames, American, 1907–1978

    Description

    One piece molded fiberglass body shaped for human form. Steel legs attached to plastic seat with rubber shock mounts. Network of stretchers attached to legs, crossing at sides, back and center. Curved wooden rockers bolted onto legs. Note that "Rod" in the title of this model chair refers to the metal rods in the base; the chair could be purchased with a variety of different base structures.

    Details

    Dimensions

    68.58 x 62.86 x 59.69 cm (27 x 24 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Molded polyester fiberglass composite, steel and birch rockers, rubber shock mounts

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1975.33

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • DKR-2 ("Bikini " chair)

    designed 1951; made 1953

    Designed by Charles Eames, American, 1907–1978

    Description

    Two-piece azure-colored leather upholstery. Grid-patterned bucket seat sets upon a wire base. Wire painted black. Note that "Rod" in the title of this model chair refers to the metal rods in the base; the chair could be purchased with a variety of different base structures. "Bikini" refers to the style of upholstery.

    Details

    Dimensions

    81.28 x 44.45 x 49.53 cm (32 x 17 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Painted steel wire, leather

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1985.185

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • "Contour" beverage service

    designed 1951–52; made 1953–about 1960

    Designed by Robert J. King, American, born in 1917

    Description

    The silver beverage service is composed of a pitcher with lid, covered sugar bowl, and creamer that has a biomorphic shape and flat base. The pitcher handle is a translucent turquoise plastic.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Pitcherl: 26 x 17.8 x 8.4 cm (10 1/4 x 7 x 3 5/16 in.) Sugar bowl: 8.8 x 8.6 x 7 cm (3 7/16 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.) Creamer: 10.8 x 8.6 x 7 cm (4 1/4 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver, polystryene

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    2001.260.1a-b-3

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Onion teapot

    1954

    John Prip, American, 1922–2009 American

    Description

    The onion-shaped teapot is in the form of a compressed sphere, from which the central cover and finial rise. The woven rattan handle forms a whiplash curve that widens before turning inward to the body. The cone-shaped lid seats seamlessly in the vessel’s bezel-set opening. An ebony finial is shaped to meet the lid, extending vertically in a trumpet form.
    Prototype for teapot produced by Reed & Barton.

    Details

    Dimensions

    15.8 x 27.5 x 18.5 cm (6 1/4 x 10 13/16 x 7 5/16 in.)

    Medium

    Silver, ebony, rattan

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1995.137

    Collections

    Americas

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Necklace

    about 1958

    Art Smith, American, born in Cuba, 1917–1982 American (born in...

    Description

    Large silver necklace comprised of three free-form elements each with three applied bezel-set stones (semi-precious). Framed and connected by hammered flat curved silver elements.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.8 x 26 x 1.9 cm (17 1/4 x 10 1/4 x 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Silver; turquoise, rhodochrosite, chrysoprase, and amethyst (or garnet)

    Classification

    Jewelry / Adornment , Necklaces, Neck Bands

    Accession Number

    2006.537

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art , Jewelry

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Camelback Mountain

    1959

    Peter Voulkos, American, 1924–2002

    Description

    Peter Voulkos led a group of California ceramists who radically changed American ceramic arts in the 1950s by moving the field toward abstraction, playful handling of materials, and personal expression. In the early 1950s, after earning his M.F.A. in ceramics at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Voulkos became fascinated by the qualities of improvisation and assemblage found in various media including jazz music, Japanese folk pottery, and the art of Pablo Picasso, Juan Miro, David Smith, and the avant-garde Abstract Expressionist painters. After founding the ceramics department at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1954, he assembled a group of highly talented students who formed something of a revolutionary enclave. His radicalism led to conflict with the Institute's director, Millard Sheets, and in 1959 Voulkos left to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He continued to be a influential teacher for decades; he traveled widely and gave exciting workshops during which he demonstrated the spontaneous and playful qualities of his work.

    Voulkos assembled Camelback Mountain from hollow, wheel-thrown pots which were then paddled and compressed to destroy their symmetrical shapes. These altered pots, some gouged or sliced open to reveal internal space, were then stacked and attached, creating a dynamic form with contrasting areas of light and shadow, void and mass. While the work exists as a non-functional, sculptural object, it also explores the essence of ceramic vessel forms as open and closed containers. Moreover, this work celebrates the earthy and messy qualities of the clay medium. Camelback Mountain demonstrates how Voulkos' work revolutionized the clay medium not by merely imitating contemporary sculpture or painting, but by exploiting clay in a fresh and direct way.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    115.57 x 49.53 x 51.43 cm (45 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.)

    Medium

    Stoneware

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Stoneware

    Accession Number

    1978.690

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Rocking chair

    1975

    Sam Maloof, American, 1916–2009 American

    Description

    Rocking chair with slightly concave crest rail; seven curved slats, shaped like spindles at either end, form back. Rounded back stiles, joined at rocker, seat, and crest rail, extend above crest. Arm rests cut with band saw to curved contour; laminated rockers; exposed joinery; contoured seat.

    Details

    Dimensions

    114.3 x 70.48 x 116.84 cm (45 x 27 3/4 x 46 in.)

    Medium

    Walnut

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    1976.122

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Delight Rocking Chair

    1980

    Martha Rising Rosson, born in 1954

    Description

    A masterpiece of technical skill and expressive qualities, Martha Rising's bentwood rocking chair uses slender laminated members and curved joinery to suggest dynamic motion. Rising accented the light-colored maple frame with padauk and purpleheart; thin strips of these darker woods function like "racing stripes" on an automobile to heighten the impression of energy and movement. As Rising explained in 1984, "the dynamic vitality and rhythm I seek to give each piece allows a relationship to the piece beyond its utilitarian function-it portrays a moment of motion captured or portrayed in the piece." Although the chair pushed the boundaries of function, Rising demonstrated a traditionalist's sensitivity to the use of wood as a material. In a 1983 article otherwise disparaging art furniture that was conceptual rather than practical, contemporary furniture maker Art Carpenter praised the care and skill evident in this chair, which he called "a delight of bent forms and fine joinery, a tour de force of craftsmanship which if taken a step further could have become a parody of the bender's art."

    Rising (now Martha Rising Rosson) was active in studio furniture-making in California from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. Like other second-generation studio furniture makers, her training included both informal and academic education. After learning basic woodworking and design methods from her father in his home workshop, she majored in "Design in Wood" in the art department at California State University, Northridge. There she earned both a B.A. and M.F.A., visited the studios of noted California furniture makers Sam Maloof, Carpenter, and Larry Hunter, and apprenticed with wood sculptor Michael Jean Cooper. Cooper's use of complex three-dimensional bending and exotic woods in various colors strongly influenced Rising's work, although unlike Cooper, Rising consciously worked to remain, in her words, within "the vocabulary of…utilitarian furniture."

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 83.8 x 58.4 x 121.9 cm (33 1/2 x 23 3/4 x 49 1/2 in.)

    Medium

    Maple, purpleheart, Andaman padauk

    Classification

    Furniture , Seating and Beds

    Accession Number

    2004.256

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Clock

    1979–80

    Frank E. Cummings III, American, born in 1938 American

    Description

    Ebony and ivory case with three curved glass panels. The case rests upon a free-form stand made of ebony with ivory caps. All parts of the clock works are visible. The handmade wheels have outer rims of African blackwood, and centers of hand-carved ivory. Pinions and arbors are made of highly polished ivory, and each pinion is capped with a star sapphire set in gold. The clock is operated by two ivory and ebony weights with ivory pulleys. The two-day clock chimes on the hour; the resonater is made of African blackwood.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 172.7 x 61 x 40.6 cm (68 x 24 x 16 in.)

    Medium

    Ebony, ivory, African blackwood, 14 kt gold, black star sapphires, glass

    Classification

    Furniture , Clocks

    Accession Number

    2004.563

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Standing cup with cover

    1986

    Richard Mawdsley, American, born in 1945 American

    Description

    The tall raised bowl has a gradually everted rim and is surmounted by a tall steeple-shaped lid composed of a low dome and three stages of increasingly smaller tubular assemblages. The bowl is supported from below by a smaller corresponding dome and tubular mass. The tall stem is composed of a male head with curly locks made of hollow wire; a head formed in repoussé; and a stylized torso and legs. The body and headdress are composed of narrow tubes that have been shaped and cut to emulate a machinelike appearance. The domed and splayed foot is capped by a second, smaller dome and tubular pattern that echoes the lid.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.8 x 9.2 cm (17 1/4 x 3 5/8 in.)

    Medium

    Silver

    Classification

    Silver hollowware

    Accession Number

    1988.535a-b

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Leopard Chest

    1989

    Judy Kensley McKie, American, born in 1944 American

    Description

    Carved chest-on-legs with gilded leopards intertwined with black plants on a reddish background. Top has rubbed black framing with carved, painted leopard images on outside and inside.

    Details

    Dimensions

    84.77 x 126.68 x 45.72 cm (33 3/8 x 49 7/8 x 18 in.)

    Medium

    Basswood, oil paint, gold leaf

    Classification

    Furniture , Case Furniture and Boxes

    Accession Number

    1991.444

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Mirage Lake

    1984

    Wayne Higby, born in 1943

    Description

    Thrown bowl with curved sides, slightly altered from the circular. White, blue, brown, purple, and gray glazes with crackle from landscape decoration. Raku fired.

    Details

    Dimensions

    27.94 x 46.99 x 42.54 cm (11 x 18 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.)

    Medium

    Raku-fired earthenware

    Classification

    Ceramics , Pottery , Earthenware

    Accession Number

    1984.770

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia
  • Soleggiata Serena

    2000

    Artist Toots Zynsky, American, born in 1951 American

    Description

    Fan-shaped filet-de-verre (fused and thermo-formed colored glass threads).

    Details

    Dimensions

    27.9 x 62.9 x 22.9 cm (11 x 24 3/4 x 9 in.)

    Medium

    Filet-de-verre glass

    Classification

    Glass

    Accession Number

    2001.281

    Collections

    Americas , Contemporary Art

    Not On View
    More Info
    Multimedia

Contents