Enfilade

Exhibition | Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by InternRW on July 24, 2016

Opening in August at the Yale University Art Gallery:

Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 19 August, 2016 — 8 January 2017

Curated by Patricia Kane

Desk and Bookcase

Christopher Townsend and Samuel Casey, Desk and Bookcase, Newport, R.I., 1745-50. Mahogany and sabicu (?) with silver hardware. Private collection.

This groundbreaking exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks. Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies, and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export. The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century. Reflecting on one of New England’s most important artistic traditions, Art and Industry in Early America encourages a newfound appreciation for this dynamic school of American furniture making.

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And due out in October from Yale UP:

Patricia Kane with Dennis Carr, Nancy Goyne Evans, Jennifer Johnson, and Gary Sullivan, Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016), 504 pages, ISBN: 978-0300217841, $85.

Art and Industry in Early America Rhode Island Furniture, 1650-1830.jpgThe most comprehensive publication available to date on the topic, Art and Industry in Early America examines furniture made throughout Rhode Island from the earliest days of the settlement to the late Federal period. This stunning volume features more than 200 illustrations of beautifully constructed and carved objects—including chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks—that demonstrate the superb workmanship and artistic skill of the state’s furniture makers. Written by distinguished scholars, the book presents new information on the export trade, patronage, artistic collaboration, and the small-scale shop traditions that defined early Rhode Island craftsmanship. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Newport and Providence and by well-known makers such as John Goddard and Samuel and Joseph Rawson, Jr., the catalogue showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns. More than 100 catalogue entries detail marks and inscriptions, bibliography, and provenance and feature many new photographs, encouraging a deeper understanding of this dynamic school of American furniture making.

Patricia E. Kane is the Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery.

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