HE exoticism of the East has long whetted the imagination of Western man. In our early decorative arts, the colonies felt shimmers of the Orient through ceramics, textiles, furniture, and books. Whether these were actual productions of the East or not made little difference. Precision was not a requisite to the eighteenth – century mind when sublime remoteness could provide delight through flights of fancy.
In furniture, the true Oriental lacqucrwork could not be produced in the West, but simplified imitations became popular in Holland and England by the end of the seventeenth century. In the 1700s, Indian work, or japanning as it became better known, spread to the colonies; Hoston and New York became the major centers of this work... >
The Artificers in this Place Exceed Ary upon ye Continent And are here also Most Numerous as Cabinet Makers, Chacc A Coach Makers. „ . ’Watchmakers. Printers, Smiths, &C.1
N 1750 James Bilker, a traveller from the West Indies, found Boston filled with craftsmen. To him, their number surpasscxl that in any other American town. Today, as one passes through museums and historical societies, he is likely to agree with Birket. Hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of furniture made in the Boston area during the eighteenth century have survived. Their makers are, for the most part, unknown. However, the quantity of objects attests to tlic activity of many craftsmen... >
" O ST О К furniture of the eighteenth century has long inrer- , ested informed collectors and students of furniture history. Yet, no book has been devoted to die subject. While catalogues and scholarly works have appeared on die eighteench-ccntury furniture of New Hampshire, Rhode island, Connecticut, New York, New jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina,1 little has been written oil Massachusetts and particularly Boston. Today such an obvious research need in the field of American art does not long remain fallow. Even before this book was begun, preliminary work had commenced. In 1948 Mabel Swan published the first major list of Boston craftsmen,2 Subsequent researchers such as Rkh-