FURNITURE & DECORATIVE ARTS
The furniture and decorative arts included in the room are all from around the beginning of the 19th century.
FOLDING CARD TABLES
Folding Card Table
Boston, c. 1800.
Mahogany and birch; secondary woods, white pine and maple.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.7.6
Folding Card Table
American, possibly Salem, Mass., c. 1800.
Mahogany and birch veneer; secondary wood, white pine.
Gift of the Friends of the Institute. 24.55
In the late 18th century, lighter and more delicate furniture became more popular. For example, notice that the heavier cabriole leg has been replaced in these tables by a slender, reeded, tapered leg with a small ornamental knob two inches above the foot. Similarly, the heavier ornamental details of the Chippendale style have been superseded by more dependence on veneering and inlaid work for decoration, as we see in the oval mahogany medallion in the satinwood frieze under the tabletop. (Satinwood, a yellow-toned timber from the East and West Indies, was the most widely used material for inlay. It was often combined with natural mahogany, as in this table.)
Card playing in America was almost as popular as it was in England. The tables could be used as pier or side tables when not in use. A third table is displayed open with cards and fish chips to show a game in progress, while a fourth is set for tea.
American, Mass., c. 1800.
Mahogany; secondary wood, white pine.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.7.2
The work table, a new form of furniture in America, appeared shortly after the Revolutionary War. Mending and sewing materials were stored in the bottom drawer, which was in the form of a silk bag suspended from the frame. During this period, such tables were used in parlors and drawing rooms, an indication of the relaxation of formality present during the Federal period. Sewing was also important as an indicator of social accomplishment for women.
Probably Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Mahogany, bird's eye maple, birch veneer, and pine
Gift of Mrs. W.C. MacFarlane by exchange, and Rosalee and Wayne MacFarlane 94.13.a-p.
This secretary/bookcase would have been used for reading and writing. It is a good example of the new Federal style.
American, Boston, c. 1800.
Mahogany; secondary wood, white pine.
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Wayne H. MacFarlane. 83.100
This is a mahogany Chippendale chair with a serpentine crest rail, wonderfully shaped wings, horizontally rolled arms, and molded front legs. All of the legs are connected by stretchers. The upholstery on this chair matches that on the sofa, two side chairs, and drapery and is a fabric produced by Scalamandre as a reproduction of a color and design that was available during this period. The original upholstery was possibly by Moses Grant.
American, around 1785-95
Mahogany, maple and ebony inset panels
The MacFarlane Room Fund 92.116
(See Arts copy December 1992, back cover)
This type of armchair, known as a lolling chair (also called a "Martha Washington" chair), is named for its use. Its comfortably inclined back and low seat made it one of the less rigid 18th-century furniture styles.
The armchair is a superb example of the Federal Style in Massachusetts around 1785-95. Outstanding features of the style exhibited by this piece include the maple and ebony decorative inset panels and the feeling of lightness created by the sharply raked back, the tapering front legs, and the graceful curves of the arms.
American, Mass., Federal Style, c. 1805.
Upholstered mahogany; secondary wood, white pine
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.7.1
By the end of the 18th century, sofas had come into widespread use
among the wealthy. Like the majority of tables made during this time, the width of the sofas (rather than the height) was emphasized to give the rooms an overall feeling of horizontality. The bow-shaped back, narrow arms connected to the legs by reed supports, and inlaid tapered legs contribute to the light, delicate feeling which is characteristic of many Sheraton sofas made about this time.
PAIR OF HEPPLEWHITE MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS
Pair of Hepplewhite Mahogany Side Chairs
American, Mass., attributed to Stephen Badlam, 1779-1815
Mahogany; secondary wood, maple.
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Wayne MacFarlane. 83.78.1,2
These side chairs have a beaded Gothic arch with acorn finials, carved husks, and ears of wheat which extend onto the serpentine crest rail. The seat is saddle-shaped, and the molded legs are connected by stretchers. Stephen Badlam was a leading American cabinetmaker during the Federal period.
He set up his shop in Dorchester Lower Mills, Massachusetts, and was one of the few cabinetmakers to mark his furniture with a stamp.
American, c. 1800.
Brass and steel.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.8.6
These screens were placed in front of the fire to prevent brands or coal from rolling into the room. They had been in use since the 17th century.
American, c. 1800.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.8.1,2
The andirons terminate in what are known as "lemon tops," one of a variety of finials used on brass andirons in the 18th century. They stand on ball and claw feet, a detail adapted from Georgian and Chippendale furniture.
Spanish or Bohemian, c. 1780-1800.
Oak and iron fittings, non-lead glass.
Gift of the Decorative Arts Council. 81.59.1-17
This is a portable chest in which bottles and glasses were stored. The chest could have been used on long journeys or picnics when alcoholic beverages were consumed.
Anglo-Irish, c. 1800.
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Wayne H. MacFarlane. 73.23.1a-m; 73.23.2a-m
This candelabra is labeled Anglo-Irish because of its date. Glass of this type was produced in England through the late 18th century. At that time, the English government added heavy taxes to glassmaking, and, as a result, some craftsmen moved to Ireland.
Prismatic cutting is a technique of making cut glass used on teardrops and was very popular in the early 19th century. Candelabras such as these were often exported to the States to be sold to wealthy merchants. The term "candelabra" is derived from the French word for tree branch.
English or Irish, c. 1800.
Crystal, lead glass.
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Wayne H. MacFarlane. 67.58.6
The light, graceful furniture of the last quarter of the 18th century was enhanced by the use of the cut glass chandelier. Hurricane shades, as seen on this chandelier, were not generally used in England. However, English chandeliers made in the latter part of the century were designed so that shades could be added if the colonials so chose.
American, c. 1800
Mahogany, painted canvas.
The MacFarlane Room Fund 90.47a,b
Pole screens were used as protection against the heat of a large fire. Ones like this were often referred to as table screens because they could be drawn up to a table to protect a candle from a draught or the make-up of the sitter from the heat. (The base of lady's make-up was quite often wax and could melt if it became too warm.)
PAIR OF LOOKING GLASSES
Pair of Looking Glasses
Probably Continental, c. 1800.
Pink marble, gold leaf over gesso and carved wood, gilt wire.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren MacFarlane. 64.4.1, 2
These mirrors are of a type that were imported from Europe at the end of the 18th century and into the beginning of the 19th century. They are often distinguished by their pink frame of marble, which is frequently combined with gilded open work ornamentation. These mirrors are no longer only utilitarian; they provide an important part of the decorative scheme as well.
BULL'S EYE LAMP
Bull's Eye Lamp
English, c. 1800-1859.
Anonymous gift. 57.61a-c
This was an improved reading lamp and a common source of light during this period. Lamps at this time used whale oil.1 The whale oil was held in the drum-shaped font; the wick extended into the oil and was lit to create light. The glass then magnified the very small light onto the reader's page. Compare this source of light to the candles that were the source of light in the Connecticut and Charleston rooms.
TEACUPS & SAUCERS
Teacups and Saucers
Chinese for the European Market, c. 1800.
Hard paste porcelain.
Gift of the Winifield Foundation. 184.108.40.206,2
Child's Tea Set
Chinese, for export
Dishes of this type were made in China for export to Europe and North America. The Chinese adapted their porcelain patterns and designs to fill the requests of their overseas buyers. For example, saucers were supplied with teacups, plates were made with wide flat rims, and vases were made in sets of three or five to form "garnitures de cheminée." Since the journey by sailboat to China took nearly a year, the buyer often had to wait two years for the service to arrive.
The cups and saucers on the table are good examples of the mixtures of styles. Note that the cups are handleless in the Chinese style but are accompanied by saucers. They demonstrate the continued importance of tea as a social beverage at this time.
American or English, ca. 1800.
Mahogany with light-colored wood inlays; secondary wood, pine
Gift of the Estate of Mrs. James S. Bell, 29.22
This is a container for storing tea. Made primarily in the 18th and early 19th centuries, tea caddies came in a wide variety of shapes and designs. This one is rectangular with two compartments which would contain two different types of tea, either Chinese or Indian, or a variety of Chinese teas called green tea. The compartments each have a tightly fitting lid and are, in turn, enclosed in the caddy which also has a lid that may be locked. Tea was very expensive in America, even after the American revolution, and this helped to prevent pilfering by the servants. The word "caddy" comes from the Malay word, "Kate," which means a weight equivalent to 11/15 of a pound, the weight by which tea was sold.
William Holmes and Nicholas Dumee.
Partnership active 1773-76.
Bequest of Mrs. Warren C. MacFarlane. 73.8.7a,b
Tea urns were introduced about 1769 when a need arose for larger vessels to hold hot water as tea parties became more popular. The urns were made with a compartment inside to hold a piece of hot metal. This was heated in the kitchen and dropped into the urn. It kept the water hot for hours.
Like so much of the furniture in the room, the tea urn is in the Neo-Classical Style. In particular, note how closely it resembles an early Grecian urn, illustrating how this style was influenced by Greek and Roman artifacts.
American; Concord, Mass., 1815-1825.
Probably by Samuel Whiting.
The MacFarlane Period Room Fund 86.49
This clock is made of mahogany with chestnut and white pine secondary woods and has glass with reverse painting. It has an eight-day brass weight powered movement that is pendulum regulated. The clock is wound once a week.
Hayward, Arthur H., Colonial Lighting
, Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1927.
Well-written and illustrated by an early 20th-century collector of lighting fixtures of the American colonies. Enjoyable to read.
Lynn, Catherine, Wallpaper in America from 17th Century to WWI, A. Barra Foundation, Cooper-Hewitt Museum Book, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., New York, 1980.
Excellent history of American wallpaper. Easy to read, well-documented and illustrated.
MacFarlane, Wayne, Family of room's donors, Telephone conversation, June 1983.
McClelland, Nancy, Historic Wallpapers, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia & London, 1924.
Book is of historic value with color-plates and cover sheets. Beautifully printed and illustrated. Reference base for Catherine Lynn's book.
Montgomery, Charles F., American Furniture The Federal Period, 1788-1825, A Winterthur Book, Viking Press, New York, 1966.
Excellent reference. Illustrations and brief descriptions very helpful for docents.
Musgrave, Clifford, Adam and Hepplewhite and Other Neo-Classical Furniture, Faber & Faber, 24 Russell Square, London, 1966.
Brief descriptions of English furniture pieces, makers, and processes. Illustrations separate from written text.
Oman, Charles C. and Jean Hamilton, Wallpapers (An International History), Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 1982.
An encyclopedia of wallpaper designs, pattern books, and designers based on the Victoria & Albert Collection in London. Very brief history of wallpaper in introduction.
"The Second Harrison Gray Otis House, Boston," Antiques Magazine, October, 67:536-41.