Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.

Grisaille – definition

Grisaille

Grisaille, from the French word gris meaning grey, is a term used to describe works of art painted entirely in a monochromatic palette. Technically speaking, there are other terms that apply when the monochromatic palette used is of a different color (brunaille for brown, verdaille for green, for instance), but grisaille is often misused to cover all monochrome works, regardless of hue. There are also plenty of works that are considered grisaille that [...] Click here to continue reading.

Trundle Beds – Definition

Trundle Beds

When many people see trundle beds, they think of Little House in the Big Woods. They may also think of impoverished people, frontier living, too many people and not enough room. In reality, trundle beds have been around far longer and have a very different tradition in history.

But first, to define them: trundle beds (also sometimes called truckle beds) derive their name from little wheels or casters that allowed them to [...] Click here to continue reading.

Dovetail

Dovetail – A Definition

Examining a piece of furniture is like examining a crime scene – forensics play a role in unraveling puzzles about the who, what, where, when, how of each object. One of the “fingerprints” commonly found in pieces of furniture is the dovetail joint (also known just as dovetail or, in Europe, often called a swallowtail or fantail joint). The photograph here shows the front corner of a drawer in a [...] Click here to continue reading.

Captain Lewis Barnes (1776 to 1856)

Captain Lewis Barnes (1776 to 1856)

Barnes was born Jacobi Ludwig Baarnhielm in Sweden, and migrated to Salem at the age of fourteen. He became a successful merchant and sea captain, owning stakes in the Recovery and the Lewis, and lived on Islington Street.

More than ten pieces of Barnes’s furniture survive and all are branded “L. Barnes.” For a discussion of Barnes and the other individuals and families that branded their [...] Click here to continue reading.

White, Stanford – American Architect & Artist

Stanford White (1853-1906)

Stanford White (November 9, 1853 – June 25, 1906) was in his day best known for his Beaux-Arts work with the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, in which he was a partner, work which typifies what is thought of as the American Renaissance of art and design.

White’s family had no money, but were still well connected in the art world of New York in the 19th century, and [...] Click here to continue reading.

The Moravians

Moravians

In the late 14th century, Jan Hus, a Roman Catholic priest in Prague who had been heavily influenced by reformer John Wycliffe, began to attract followers as he spoke out about indulgences (a key practice Martin Luther would attack again in 1517) and his belief that church members should be able, permitted, and encouraged to study the Bible themselves. Hus’s continual agitation would put him at odds with the Catholic Church and in [...] Click here to continue reading.

John Ritto Penniman (1782 to 1841)

John Ritto Penniman (1782 to 1841)

Born in Boston, John Ritto Penniman came from a talented family, his father was a physician and entrepreneur, and his ten siblings include booksellers, an artist and inventor, and a teacher. Penniman trained as an ornamental painter in Roxbury, Massachusetts, which was, at the time, a community of artisans, including clock and furniture makers. Some of his early work was as a dial painter for noted clockmakers Aaron [...] Click here to continue reading.

Nakashima, George – American Designer

George Nakashima (1905-1990)

George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905, the son of Japanese immigrants. His educational pursuits began in the 1920′s at the University of Washington, and from there he studied in Paris at the Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts and ultimately graduated from MIT with an MA in Architecture in 1930. He also learned traditional woodworking in Japan and India.

In 1931, when Nakashima began his professional life as [...] Click here to continue reading.

Philbrick, Timothy

Timothy Philbrick

Timothy Philbrick began his furniture career by becoming an apprentice after graduating high school. He worked for over four years with John C. Northup Jr., restoring and reproducing traditional 18th-century furniture in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. With this training, he enrolled as a graduate student at Boston University in 1975, studying the history of furniture with John Kirk in the American Studies Department, and design with Jere Osgood and Alphonse Mattia in [...] Click here to continue reading.

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