Straight Windsor Lines & Shaker Oval Boxes

1/ & 2/
Windsor Armchairs & Settee, mid 18th century

Decorated Boxes
Used to store everything from grains, spices and dried fruits to combs, sewing accessories, jewelry, tobacco and documents, these boxes were often decorated as gifts.

Oval Shaker Boxes, ca. 1840-60

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing became more commonly known as ”Shakers” because of their ”ecstatic and violent bodily agitation” in worship. A Christian sect founded in 1747 in Manchester, England they emigrated to America to avoid persecution. Their first settlement was in New Lebanon, New York and eventually eighteen other communities were established, reaching a total number of 5.000 devotees during the decade preceding the Civil War.

Though men and women lived separately in Shaker communities, they believed in gender equality; they also believed in celibacy, common property and the second coming of Christ.

The Shakers were hard working, excellent farmers and equally great artisans who embraced new technologies and used them to create fine furniture, tools, equipment and artifacts, guided by the principles of simplicity, utility and honesty.

Perhaps the best known of these artifacts are their distinctive oval storage boxes secured with swallowtail ”fingers” or laps. Oval box making began in the 1790s at the New Lebanon, New York, community (the Shakers’ spiritual centre) as one of the first Shaker industries, and survived well into the 20th century. While boxes were produced for use by the Shakers themselves, the vast majority were sold to outsiders, becoming one of the Shakers’ most profitable commercial products.

Little did the first settlers know that, two hundred years later, their simple, honest designs would be admired by art enthusiasts as museum pieces!

Sargent Claude Johnson, 1888-1967
Untitled (screen for pipe organ)

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Blessed are your dreams, my Child)

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night – [Verses from a Welsh lullaby translated into English]Hans Memling
Christ Blessing, 1481
Oil on panel

England (London), ca. 1800-10
Oak and pine veneered with mahogany, ebonized pine, patinated bronze, gilded metal, modern upholstery This bed is among the most original pieces of English Regency furniture. Dominant in English interiors from about 1800 to 1830, the Regency style perpetuated the classical taste of the late 18th century but was more academic and archaeologically correct. This bed closely resembles furnishings designed by Thomas Hope – collector, connoisseur and a pivotal figure in the classical revival of Regency England- for one of his residences. Its architectural form and bronze mounts derive from ancient and Renaissance models. The greyhounds, however, are inspired by medieval tomb sculpture and exemplify the more romantic interpretation of historical sources characteristic of Hope’s influential furniture designs. The bed may have been used for resting – a day bed – or for sleeping. 

Sweet (day)dreams from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

May 2nd, 2017

The French touch

Recently, the Jewish Museum presented the first U.S. exhibition on the work of French designer and architect Pierre Chareau (1883–1950). On show were mainly furniture and lighting fixtures, as well as designs for Maison de Verre, the glass house completed in Paris in 1932, in collaboration with Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet (1889-1979) and craftsman metalworker Louis Dalbet.

Chareau’s designs were complemented by pieces from his personal art collection, since both he and his wife Dollie were active collectors.

But I only had eyes for these sleek, stylish pieces of furniture and fixtures created in the 1920s, yet so modern they could have come right out of a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park.

Take your pick:

La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Sofa, 1923. Rosewood with fabric upholstery.
Telephone table, ca. 1924. Walnut and patinated iron. La Petite Religieuse (the little nun), table lamp ca. 1924. Walnut, alabaster and patinated iron, metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
La Religieuse (the nun) floor lamp, ca. 1923. Mahogany and alabaster with metalwork by Louis Dalbet.
Coat and hat rack designed for La Maison de Verre ca. 1931. – Metalwork by Louis Dalbet. Stool, ca. 1923. Mahogany and mahogany-veneered wood. – Bookcase with swivelling table, ca. 1930. Walnut and black patinated iron. – Ceiling lamp, ca. 1923. Patinated brass and alabaster.
From ”The grand salon de la Maison de Verre”. Corbeille (basket) sofa, 1923. Wood and velours, with tapestry upholstery by Jean Lurçat. – Telephone fan table, ca. 1924. Wood. – High backed chauffeuse (fireside armchair), ca. 1925.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design exhibition ran between November 2016 – March 2017. You can read and browse through more photos on The Jewish Museum website.

January 8th, 2017