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Tag Archives: History of Art & Antiques

How to Buy American Victorian Furniture: A Guide for New Collectors

Victorian Furniture | Ebonized Mahogany Chair

I’m seeing a trend in the Boston area when it comes to Victorian homes. Home-buying opportunities abound, and I’ve met more than a few “young collectors” who speak admiringly of the ornate woodwork, beautiful hardwood floors and unique build-ins of their new Victorian homes. Although they realize they purchased gems, what they might not have thought about is how affordable it is to furnish their new homes with period designs.

I’ve overheard it said that Victorian antiques and Boston don’t agree – but that’s certainly not true in my experience. New York City housed the biggest powerhouses of design and manufacture in latter part of the 19th century, including Herter Brothers and Pottier & Stymus, but Boston had plenty of purchasing power, and museums and collections are plentiful here. Most importantly for collectors, great buys can be had if you know what to look for.

Tour the Glass House: An Icon of Mid-Century Modern Design

“I have very expensive wallpaper,” Philip Johnson said of The Glass House, an iconic mid-century modern building he designed in New Canaan, Connecticut. Indeed, the “wallpaper” is the vast, unfolding landscape outside the clear glass walls of the house, featuring a pond, tall pines, and meandering stone walls.

Delightfully Designed: The Furniture and Life of Nathan Lombard

The Making of an Exhibit

Guest post by Christie Jackson, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Old Sturbridge Village

The old proverb of “it takes a village to raise a child,” could easily be changed to: “it takes a Village to put on an exhibit.” On October 19, 2013, the exhibit Delightfully Designed: The Furniture and Life of Nathan Lombard will open at Old Sturbridge Village (OSV).

This has been an ambitious project for us. Many new historical discoveries have come out of a year’s worth of curatorial research, providing new insights into the furniture, family, and business of 19th century cabinetmaker Nathan Lombard.… Read More

Federal Furniture: A Lady's Secretary and Bookcase Attributed to Thomas Seymour

Essay by Robert D. Mussey, Jr., Milton, Massachusetts

The lady’s secretary and bookcase was a cultural badge signifying a Boston lady of refinement and education during the Federal period. Mary Cleveland (Smith) Bryant (1784-1860) was such a lady. She had been well-educated as daughter of Rev. John Smith, a professor of Ancient and Middle Eastern Languages at Dartmouth College, and was widely read. It was probably purchased around the time of, or a few years after, her marriage in late 1807 to John Bryant III (1780-1865).… Read More

Massachusetts Furniture: The Life and Times of Cabinetmaker William Munroe

Guest blog post by David Wood, Curator, Concord Museum

I’ve spent a good part of the last year working on the exhibit: The Best Workman in the Shop:  Cabinetmaker William Munroe of Concord, and during my research I’ve gained insight into Munroe’s accomplishments as well as his frustrations.

William Munroe’s account books and autobiography give an inside look at the life of an apprentice cabinetmaker in Federal Boston that can be found nowhere else.… Read More

Collecting American Pottery: Focus on Mochaware

Mochaware was everyday pottery in early America. The simple, geometric decorations and dynamic colors have remained timeless and popular since first made in England in the early 19th century. The August 11, 2013 American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction features a group of mochaware from private estates as well as other consignors. An early 19th-century barrel-form pitcher (lot 414, $500 to $700) and a silver-mounted mustard pot (lot 420, $300 to $500) are two examples of the variety of forms to be sold.… Read More

America’s Affair With The Ford V-8 Automobile Engine

In 1932, Ford began mass-producing the V-8 engine in America. Up until that time, only luxury cars had eight-cylinder engines. Henry Ford had been looking for a way to produce one of these powerful engines more efficiently.

Ford’s engineers used an existing light-weight four cylinder chassis with a 3.6 liter engine, which created a burst of power without the weight drag. The combination was exciting and if not respected it could be lethal.… Read More

Dall’ Aglio and the Mantua School of Fine Violins

Between the old Mantua school, represented by Peter Guarneri, Camillo Camilli, and Tomasso Balestrieri, and the new Mantua school represented by Stefano Scarampella, the only notable maker working in Mantua in the early 19th century seems to be Giuseppe Dall’ Aglio.

Austrian Bronzes: A Collection of Figurines both Whimsical and Life-Like

Austrian Bronzes | Collectible Figurines

Beginning in the late 19th century, miniature and table top bronze figures crafted in Vienna, Austria drew the attention of collectors in Europe and America. Vividly hand-painted in enamels, these finely detailed figures depicted life-like natural subjects, sometimes in cartoonish, satirical, or whimsical situations. The range of characters include familiar and popular figures, Black Americana, expedition and travel-inspired subjects, elements of the exotic Oriental or near Eastern world, as well as erotic figures.… Read More

The Life of a Dress: Wearing Zandra Rhodes

Last week, Karen Keane and I met designer and fashion icon Zandra Rhodes for the first time at a lovely opening reception for the exhibit  Zandra Rhodes: A Lifelong Love Affair with Textiles at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop by – the show is on display until December 1, 2012.

With her bright pink hair and bold, hand-painted garments, Zandra is impossible to ignore and has exerted her influence on the textile and clothing design world since the 1960s.… Read More

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