The Bom be Furniture of Boston


HE American bombtf cascpiecc is among the most ou[standing furniture forms produced by American eighteenth-century craftsmen. Bomb£ furniture is rare, well designed, and skill­fully constructed. More importantly for the historian, its produc­tion was almost exclusively confined to the city of Boston and its immediate environs.1 A study of this type of furniture will add tootir understanding of the period leading up to the American Revolution and the Federalist era in Boston and its cultural dependencies from Salem in the north to Plymouth in the south.

Appearing on chests of drawers, cbest-0n-chests, desks, desks and bookcases, dressing tables, dressing glasses, and tea caddies, the form as produced in Boston is defined by a single bulge located near the base of the front and sides of a piece of furniture, Rombc furniture partakes ofessentially the same refined spirit that produced turret-top tea tables (fig. 94), block front furniture, reverse serpentine case – pieces (fig. 9^), and furniture with a hollowed pediment composed of double ogee curves (fig. 96), These individual forms as well as American bombd design are cither unique to or achieve their greatest popularity in Boston and its cultural dependents. When all the de­signs are considered as a greiup, they illustrate an aesthetic directly inspired by Great Britain. There was apparently little cross-exchange of design with the other colonial furniture-making centers of New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston; Boston furniture of this type relates almost directly with specific British prototypes.

1. Лі this da te, there is only 011c known example of Anierican bom be fun 1 it ото і)ш probably originated from outside the Host on area, a bombe dressing table probably from New Hampshire, See Samuel Chamberlain, Saleni Inrttim; Two Catwrits tf Ntw Bghwd Tatte Md Duwdfan (New York, ipjo). p. 37.

Bostonians* rasic: combined a Puritan and provincial background with a definite aspiration toward die cosmopolitan nature of the baroque age as interpreted in England. The tight, crisp vertical і су. attenuated proportions, and surface decoration of most Boston furni­ture express the Puritan and provincial aspects of Boston design, whereas die curvilinear character of Boston bomb£, blockfmnt, and serpentine furniture strives tor a sense of baroque form and move­ment in space.