American Furniture By E. T. Joy

fact, tending toward the functional in form, American Chippendale often offers little curvature, considerable restraint in ornament, and crisp rather than flowing forms, a far cry from his rococo flights of fancy. In Puritanical districts such as New England, where adornment never had been smiled upon, Chippendale-style furniture was often so simplified as to appear succinct, so straight and strict as to seem prim. To call such furniture by Chippendale's name is out of character, and is so recognized increasingly, though a more satisfactory term has not yet turned up.

But make no mistake, American 'Chippen¬dale' did constitute a new style in America, the most elaborate and luxurious up to that time. The style continued till 1785, or there¬after, bringing in the whole series of new developments that had begun about 1750, when Queen Anne chairs with looped top rails and club feet gave way to chairs with the Cupid's bow top rail, and claw-and-ball feet, while the solid vase-shaped or fiddle-back splat gave way to the open carved, interlaced splat, showing Gothic, Chinese or French motives. Also the 'Marlborough' leg appeared, and chairs with square, straight, footless legs, generally connected by stretchers. In all these chairs the American tendency was toward smaller size, suited to a smaller chair seat than was the rule in England, American taste being modest, and American rooms not as palatially large as in fashionable English houses. Chippendale chair-back settees were made, and a few upholstered Chippendale sofas with open-rolling arms.

In England, secretaries and chests of drawers with cabinet tops generally had glass doors. In America, the doors were more often of wood, attractively panelled. Cabriole legs were always used on highboys and low-' boys, while low-standing cabinet pieces were given either the short cabriole or a bracket foot, the bracket straight or ogee. Both cabriole and square straight legs were used on tables; and the apron of smallish tables, like the apron of cabinet pieces, was variously treated: plain, curved or carved with a band of ornament.

Tripod tables became quite popular, elaborate examples carrying acanthus carving on the legs and pedestal. Sometimes the pedestal flaunted a surpassing luxury, a tilting top boldly shaped and carved like the notches in a pie-crust. A bit of carving might also appear on the knees of bedposts with short cabriole legs. Generally, however, before the Revolution American bedpost legs were square and plain, with round, fluted foot posts. The headposts, covered by draperies, were mostly plain, and headboards also tended toward the plain. Always we must remember the freedom with which American furniture craftsmen interpreted the English style, mak¬ing not only for individual variation on the form but for differences from the English style.

Adam: the furniture style that superseded Chippendale's in England - the 'beautiful spirit of antiquity5 which inspired the classical designs of the Adam brothers - had no following in America. The reason is that the designs were never published, and therefore were not available to Americans; that the furniture itself was made for the rich and not for export; and that in 1775, just about the time that Americans might have heard about the Adam style the Revolutionary War broke out. When relations between the two countries opened up again in 1784, the Adam style was already on the wane in England, giving way in the next few years to the Hepplewhite and Sheraton styles. The result was that in America the style called Chippendale was followed by the styles of Hepplewhite and Sheraton, the two arriving at much the same moment and sharing the honours as to esteem.

It is true that some Adamesque mirrors (probably Hepplewhite mirrors with motives derived from Adam) were made in America; also that there were installed a few mantelpieces in the classical manner. But no American furniture in the Adam style was produced. Fittingly enough for the new republic, a revival of classical architecture, encouraged by Thomas Jefferson no less, arose in the United States immediately after the Revolu¬tion. The first Government building con¬structed, the Bank of the United States, in Philadelphia, was designed as a Romanesque

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