American Furniture


This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American Furniture." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.

Next are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.


Articles and essays from Resource Library in chronological order:

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design (6/29/16)

Chester Cornett: Beyond the Narrow Sky (5/30/15)

Thistles and Crowns: The Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore (5/12/14)

The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World (4/3/14)

New Discoveries in Georgia Painted Furniture; essay by Ashley Callahan and Dale L. Couch (1/28/08)

Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style (11/1/07)

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Seat of Genius, Chairs: 1895-1955; essays by Penny Fowler and Mary Anna Eaton with Introduction by Timothy A. Eaton (7/9/07)

The Decorated Furniture of Somerset County, Pennsylvania; essay by Charles R. Muller (6/28/07)

John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker (3/22/05)

In the Beginning: The Decorated Furniture of Ralph and Martha Cahoon; with essay by Barnes Riznik (8/11/04)

Luxury and Innovation: Furniture Masterworks by John and Thomas Seymour (1/5/04)

Furniture of the American South, 1680-1830, The Colonial Williamsburg Collection (7/18/03)

Furniture of the American South 1680 ­ 1830: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection (8/30/02)

Thomas Affleck Chair of 1770 - 1771 Given to Philadelphia Museum of Art (3/11/02)

Valley Furniture, Valley Tools (9/4/01)

Keeping Time: Clockmaking in Concord, 1790-1835 (5/26/00)

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Acquires Historic American Furniture (3/18/00)

Lyman Allyn Museum of Art at Connecticut College Acquires Rare Chippendale Chair (10/9/99)

Chairs of Choice and Vault Series IV: Chairs (8/7/99)

Shaker: Furnishings for the Simple Life (3/16/99)

Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Munson Williams Proctor Institute (3/12/99)


From other web sites:

Adirondack Rustic - Nature's Art 1876 - 1950 is an online exhibit from the Adirondack Museum. It has a five-page section on furniture. Accessed January, 2016.

American Colonial Furniture by Dennis A. Carr (.pdf) from Yale University Art Gallery. Accessed August, 2015.

American Furniture publication provides full text of articles ffrom 1993, from Chipstone Foundation. Accessed August, 2015.

The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design was a 2016 exhibit at the Albany (NY) Institute of History and Art, which says: "Each of the more than forty chairs in the exhibition was chosen for its beauty and historical context with important social, economic, political, and cultural influences. Selections from the Jacobsen Collection of American Art are joined by contemporary designs offering a stylistic journey in furniture with showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, Herter Brothers, Stickley Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, and Frank Gehry, and many others." Accessed 11/16

The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Chair Design is a 2011 exhibit at the Figge Art Museum which says: "Within the American home and workplace, chairs are usually regarded as simple, utilitarian objects that provide seating and a modicum of comfort. This exhibition offers a fascinating historical survey of artistic, technical and engineering developments in American decorative styles. The chair emerges as a complex artistic invention that embodies American ingenuity in design and reflects a variety of socio-cultural, economic and political values.' Accessed 2/17

Chester Cornett is an exhibit catalog available for online viewing at the Kentucky Folk Art Center website on the page "Past Exhibition Catalogs" listed under 2014 catalogs. Cornett is a Kentucky furniture maker. Accessed April, 2016.

Classical Splendor: Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House was a 2016-17 exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art which says: "Classical Splendor showcases a suite of furniture designed in 1808 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe for the house of Philadelphia merchant William Waln and his wife, Mary. Inspired by the classical art of ancient Greece and Rome, the painted and gilded furniture is one of the greatest artistic triumphs of the early national period. This exhibition presents ten pieces from the Walns' original set -- all from the Museum's collection -- in a new light after comprehensive research and conservation treatment." See a PMA press release and 3 min video and The Magazine Antiques article "Superfluity & Excess: Quaker Philadelphia falls for classical splendor" by Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley. Accessed 10/16.

Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) and Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779-1819) from Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Furniture from the Darwin D. Martin House is a 2016 exhibit at the Burchfield - Penney Art Center which says: "Furniture from the Darwin D. Martin House provides a unique opportunity for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Because of major on-site interior restoration work at the Darwin D. Martin House and the great collaborative relationships that the cultural institutions in Buffalo enjoy we are able to provide the community and visitors a rare experience."   Accessed 8/18

Line and Curve: The Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Shear Shaker Collection from Shaker Museum - Mount Lebanon with Prints by Ellsworth Kelly  is a 2018 exhibit at the New Britain Museum of American Art which says: "When the American painter, sculptor, and printmaker Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015) first encountered Shaker objects in 1970, he was already an established artist with a recognizable body of work -- work that drew the viewer's eye to shapes, colors, surfaces, lines and curves, without the distraction of unnecessary details." Accessed 8/18

Luxury and Innovation: Furniture Masterworks by John and Thomas Seymour from Peabody Essex Museum. Accessed August, 2015.

Nature, Form and Spirit: The Unique Furniture of George Nakashima and Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, an exhibit held in 2007 at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. Includes exbibit brochure. Accessed April, 2015.

Oil and Wood: Oklahoma Moderns George Bogart and James Henkle, an exhibit held June 7 - September 14, 2014 at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art. News release from Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Roy McMakin: Middle, an exhibit held January 29 to June 10, 2012 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, a museum in Alta Loma, CA. Accessed August, 2015.

Wendell Castle Remastered is a 2017 exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester which says: "Wendell Castle Remastered is the first museum exhibition to showcase the digitally crafted works of Wendell Castle, acclaimed figure of the American art furniture movement."  Also see artist's website  Accessed 12/17

Wendell Castle, Wandering Forms - Works from 1959-1979, an exhibit held October 19, 2012, to February 24, 2013 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

In October 2012 The Metropolitan Museum of Art launched MetPublications, an online resource that offers in-depth access to the Museum's print and online publications, covering art, art history, archaeology, conservation, and collecting. Titles relating to American representational art available for free viewing via.pdf download or online reading as of 2013 include

Nineteenth-Century America: Furniture and Other Decorative Arts; Tracy, Berry B., Marilynn Johnson, Marvin D. Schwartz, and Suzanne Boorsch (1970)
In Quest of Comfort: The Easy Chair in America; Heckscher, Morrison H. (1971)
Baltimore Federal Furniture in The American Wing; Bordes, Marilynn Johnson (1972)
American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Late Colonial Period. Vol. II, The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles; Heckscher, Morrison H. (1985)
American Kasten: The Dutch-Style Cupboards of New York and New Jersey, 1650-1800; Kenny, Peter M., Frances Gruber Safford, and Gilbert T. Vincent (1991)

Accessed August, 2015.

Colonial Williamsburg maintains a web page containing a series of QuickTime streaming videos, some of which pertain to historic American furniture. Accessed May, 2015.

Peabody Essex Museum provides via it's online video library a 2007 video titled "Behind The Scenes: Phil Lowe, Making a Desk Rosette" featuring Samuel McIntire, carving an American style. Accessed July, 2015

We welcome suggestions for additional content by sending an email to

Return to Topics in American Representational Art

TFAO catalogues:

Individual pages in each catalogue are continuously amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

Search Resource Library

Copyright 2018 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.