To summarize, the antecedents of Boston ЬотЫ furniture arose 011 the Continent, Stemming from Italian design sources, the bombe cascpiecc was transformed into contemporary usage by French cabi­netmakers, then adopted and reinterpreted by English taste, tradi­tion, and Craftsmanship before it was accepted in colonial America, In the manner peculiar to the arts, the bomb£ form cut across ideo­logical and political barriers to appear in both colonial and pOsl- Revolutionary Boston with virtually the same status. The same source in England was open to all the colonies, yet a unis]Lie combina­tion of emigrating craftsmen, imported furniture, perhaps Chippen­dale’s Director, and a response m Bostonian taste resulted in the con­scious choice of one furniture form that never appeared in the other colonies.

Although Boston furniture is not comparable to the finest Euro­pean examples, it is certainly equal to objects owned by the merchant class of London. The overall quality of Boston bom be furniture is representative of the besr cabinetwork produced in eighteenth-cen­tury Boston, Woods were carefully chosen either for color or for complexity of graining. Carving, when included, usually ranks among the most ornate found on Boston lumiture. Construction is light yet accomplished, in the best tradition of Boston cabinetwork. The individuality of many of the examples reflects the number of eraftsmcn involved in its production, and their number probably increased during tile fifty years the form was in demand.

An analysis of ownership shows that the original owners of bom be furniture were among the wealthiest people in Massachusetts. The list includes loyalists such as Governor Hutchinson, Sir William Pepper roll, Charles Aprhorp, Edward Briniey, Martin Gay, Gibbs Atkins, and the Vassal] family; and patriot and post-Bevolutionary merchants such as Joseph Barrel], William Grecnleaf, Samuel Bar­rett. Josiah Quincy, and Elias flasket Derby. The confines of die Puritan aesthetic seem to have been no harrier to the ownership of relatively ostentatious material possessions; Green leaf, for example, was the son of a Congregational minister. However, from the few definite family histories, it seems tit at Anglicans were more disposed to the bom be form than were Cong regationa lists.

The bom be form was as popular after the Revolution as it was under colonial rule. This continuity demonstrates that the aspirations of the American Revolution wrcrc political; a revolution in cultural values was apparently not considered, as many of the revolutionaries took up the outw ard trappings of the departed loyalists. Thus the bom be furniture of Boston stands as a profound and vivid repre­sentation of the taste of eigbtcenth-сеппагу Bostonians.

Updated: October 8, 2015 — 8:25 am