New Perspectives on Boston Furniture gathers together nineteen essays first delivered at the Winterthur Museum’s 2013 Furniture Forum. It amply illustrates how research concerning one of America’s most productive centers of furniture-making has diversified in the forty years since the Colonial Society of Massachusetts published Boston Furniture of the Eighteenth Century (also distributed by Virginia), the proceedings of a similar conference held in 1973. The essays place less emphasis on connoisseurship and instead devote greater attention to techniques of construction and the social uses to which these objects were put. The roster of contributors includes not only some of the best-known names in the field (Edwin S. Cooke Jr., Wendy A. Cooper, J. Ritchie Garrison, Morrison Heckscher, Robert Mussey, and Richard Nylander) but also a number of skilled furniture makers and emerging scholars. Some of the subjects addressed include the construction of turret-top tea and card tables, japaning techniques, how pigeonholes functioned as a record-keeping device for merchants, and the making of Windsor and "elastic" chairs. A particular strength of the volume is that it carries the examination of Boston furniture forward into the understudied nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with essays on piano making, the Grecian furniture of Isaac Vose, the frames and mirrors of John Doggett, and the furniture making of the east Cambridge firm of Ellis & Davenport, who did so much to satisfy demand for Colonial Revival furniture in the half century following the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876.
Distributed for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Brock Jobe is Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. He is the principal author of Harbor and Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710–1850. Gerald W. R. Ward is the Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Emeritus at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the author of The Cabinetmaker and the Carver: Boston Furniture from Private Collections.