New Book | American Furniture 1650 to the Present

Posted in books by Editor on January 4, 2018

From Rowman and Littlefield:

Oscar Fitzgerald, American Furniture, 1650 to the Present (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017), 630 pages, ISBN: 978 144227 0381, $130 / £85.

Drawing on the latest scholarship, this comprehensive, lavishly illustrated survey tells the story of the evolution of American furniture from the 17th century to the present. Not viewed in isolation, furniture is placed in its broader cultural, historic, and aesthetic context. The focus is not only on the urban masterpieces of 18th-century William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Federal styles but also on the work of numerous rural cabinetmakers. Special chapters explore Windsor chairs, Shaker, and Pennsylvania German furniture which do not follow the mainstream style progression. Picturesque and anti-classical explain Victorian furniture including Rococo, Renaissance, and Eastlake. Mission and Arts and Crafts furniture introduce the 20th century. Another chapter identifies the eclectic revivals such as Early American that dominated the mass market throughout much of the 20th century. After World War II American designers created many of the Mid-Century Modern icons that are much sought after by collectors today. The rise of studio furniture and furniture as art which include some of the most creative and imaginative furniture produced in the 20th and 21st centuries caps the review of four centuries of American furniture. A final chapter advises on how to evaluate the authenticity of both traditional and modern furniture and how to preserve it for posterity. With over 800 photos including 24 pages of color, this fully illustrated text is the authoritative reference work.

Oscar P. Fitzgerald is a nationally known historian, author, lecturer, and consultant on American furniture from colonial times to the present. He retired as the director of the Navy Museum in Washington, DC and curator of Tingey House, to pursue full time his first love which is the history of furniture from antique to modern. As a member of the faculty of the Smithsonian Institution/George Washington University Master’s program in Decorative Arts & Design History, he teaches all the furniture classes. As a decorative arts consultant, he advises on the furniture collections of a number of historic houses including the Frederick Douglass House, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, and the Custis-Lee Mansion. His publication range from a study of The Green Family of Cabinetmakers: An Alexandria Institution (of the Mercy Street TV series fame) to the catalog of the studio furniture at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


1  The Jacobean Period: Joiners and Cabinetmakers in the New World
2  William and Mary: The Years of Transition
3  Queen Anne: The Line of Beauty
4  The Chippendale Style
5  Furniture of the Federal Period
6  American Empire
7  Windsor Chairs
8  Country Furniture: New England
9  Southern Furniture
10  Furniture of Rural Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Mid-West
11  Shaker Furniture: The Gift to Be Simple
12  Victorian Furniture: Gothic and Rococo Revivals
13  Victorian Furniture: The Renaissance Revival
14  Eastlake, the Aesthetic Movement, and the Colonial Revival
15  American Mission Furniture and the Arts & Crafts Movement: 1900–1915
16  Traditional Revivals for a Conservative Public
17  Modern Furniture, 1920–1941: Is It Here to Stay?
18  America Takes the Lead: Mid-Century Modern, 1950s and 1960s
19  Post-Modern and Avant-Garde Furniture since 1975
20  Studio Furniture and Furniture as Art
21  Connoisseurship of American Furniture

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