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

Furniture makers in this period embraced the elegant late baroque style in which emphasis was placed on line and form rather than ornament. more

In the World

  • 1741George Frideric Handel composes Messiah
  • 1760Ascension of George III
  • 1754Chippendale’s Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Directory published

In Massachusetts

  • 1770Boston Massacre
  • 1773Boston Tea Party
  • 1775Battle of Lexington and Concord

Colonial Expressions in the Georgian Era

Rococo Reimagined, 1755-1790

As with the late baroque style, the rococo mode was adopted outside of Boston and Salem in an individualistic manner.

Elements of the style often persisted in this furniture until 1800 or even a few years beyond, long after it had mostly gone out of fashion and been supplanted by the neoclassical style in the seaport towns.  Rococo furniture from the hinterlands often displays a robust and expressive sense of design and ornament that elevates it to a high level of artistic expression.

In western Massachusetts and Connecticut, “scallop-top” furniture was fashioned by cabinetmakers in many towns during the last few decades of the century.
These pieces featured tops with dramatic, undulating, wavy borders.  As in other periods, furniture from the Massachusetts portions of the Connecticut Valley is understood most fully in the context of related objects made in adjacent parts of Connecticut and northern New England.

Selected Bibliography

  • Brown, Michael K.  “Scallop-top Furniture of the Connecticut Valley.”  Antiques 117, no. 5 (May 1980): 1092-1099.
  • Hosley, William N., Jr., and Gerald W.R. Ward, eds.  The Great River:  Art and Society of the Connecticut Valley, 1635-1820.  Hartford, Conn.:  Wadsworth Atheneum, 1985.  (See esp. essay on furniture by Philip Zea.)
  • 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.


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