New England Begins 1620-1730 Colonial Expressions in the Georgian Era 1730-1790 Neoclassicism in the New Nation 1790-1840 Industry, Innovation, and Tradition 1835-1950 Reaction and Reform 1870-1945 The Factory and the Studio 1920-2013

Although Massachusetts led the way in rebelling against the British in the American Revolution, the state's patrons and craftsmen remained wedded to English taste after the revolution. more

In the World

  • 1793Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin
  • 1815Battle of Waterloo
  • 1851Publication of Moby Dick

In Massachusetts

  • 1796Bulfinch’s State House completed
  • 1831William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing The Liberator
  • 1841Brook Farm Transcendental Movement experiment

Neoclassicism in the New Nation

Expanding Markets, 1790-1820

Outside of Boston and Salem, the neoclassical style was also embraced by consumers and cabinetmakers in areas west and south of the hub.

In the countryside, many furniture makers alternated furniture making with seasonal agricultural tasks.  Responding to local taste, they often created individualistic, delightful versions of the new style, which were ultimately indebted to English designs but also influenced by Boston furniture of the era. Artisans frequently employed cherry as a primary wood in their furniture, and also made use of inlaid decoration in both pictorial and patterned form.

Selected Bibliography

  • Baron, Donna K.  “Furniture Makers and Retailers in Worcester County, Massachusetts, Working to 1850.”  Antiques 143, no. 5 (May 1993): 784-95.
  • Colglazier, Gail Nessel.  Springfield Furniture, 1700-1850:  A Large and Rich Assortment.  Springfield, Mass.:  Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, 1990.
  • Hall, Elton W.  “New Bedford Furniture.”  Antiques 113, no. 5 (May 1978): 1105-27.
  • Jobe, Brock, and Clark Pearce.  “Sophistication in Rural Massachusetts:  The Inlaid Cherry Furniture of Nathan Lombard.”  AF 1998, 164-96.
  • Jobe, Brock, Jack O’Brien, and Gary R. Sullivan. Harbor and Home:  Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, 1710-1850.  Lebanon, N.H.:  University Press of New England, 2009.
  • Zea, Philip.  Useful Improvements, Innumerable Temptations:  Pursuing Refinement in Rural New England, 1750-1850.  Deerfield, Mass.:  Historic Deerfield, 1998.
  • Zea, Philip.  “William Lloyd and the Workmanship of Change.”  In Rural New England Furniture, 60-75.


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