New Haven, CT
This groundbreaking exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks.
Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies, and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export.
The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century. Reflecting on one of New England’s most important artistic traditions, Art and Industry in Early America encourages a new-found appreciation for this dynamic school of American furniture making.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website