Philadelphia Empire Furniture
This volume looks closely for the first time at Philadelphia Empire furniture and the development of decorative arts in Philadelphia between 1800 and 1840. The authors explore Neo-Classicism, contemporary history of Philadelphia, the emergence of Greek-Revival architecture, and the cabinetmakers of Philadelphia Empire furniture. The furniture illustrated in this comprehensive catalogue comes from various sources, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Atheneum of Philadelphia, the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The White House Historical Association, and from many private collections.
At the beginning of the 19th century Greek-inspired architecture gained popularity in Philadelphia and the city became known for its classically-inspired monumental buildings. Newly designed structures of ancient inspiration were decorated with classical furniture that became the prevailing style in private homes as well as public buildings.
The arrival of immigrant craftsmen from Europe in the early 19th century and their subsequent collaboration with American furniture makers produced highly sophisticated Empire designs. Neither French nor English, the designs incorporated purely American elements and became known as American Empire. Nineteenth-century Philadelphia Empire craftsmen were particularly well-known for their extensive motif carving, which often has a fluid, three-dimensional character.
Philadelphia Empire Furniture illustrates in color and describes in detail hundreds of Philadelphia decorative art forms from this period, including wood types, dimensions, and maker (if known). Chapters are dedicated to each of the following forms: card tables, platform pedestal tables, pier tables, worktables, sofas, chairs, sideboards, secretaries, chests, bedsteads, looking glasses, clocks, and other decorative elements. A separate chapter is devoted to the previously unpublished sketchbook of accomplished craftsman Anthony G. Quervelle. Besides Quervelle, other talented and successful Philadelphia furniture makers included Michel Bouvier, Charles White, Cook & Parkin, and Joseph B. Barry, among several. This book provides historical data about their lives and careers.
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