Settee for Dolls
On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
Michael Thonet (1796-1871)
Bentwood furniture, perhaps the most ubiquitous type of furniture worldwide, is indebted to the nineteenth-century innovations of Michael Thonet. Although the process—which involves steaming wood and bending it into curved shapes—had been used since ancient times to manufacture not only furniture but also wheels, barrels, and boat hulls, Thonet’s application of it in the 1830s was revolutionary. Thonet was the first designer to fuse the means of production and design to create superior products: his chairs were stronger, lighter, and less expensive than traditionally made ones. He was also a master of marketing, selling his designs through catalogues and an international chain of stores. He offered the same piece of furniture in different colors, and he produced pieces for adults, children, and even dolls (as seen here) to capture as much of the consumer market as possible.
Copper beech, modern caning
12 1/4 x 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (31.1 x 36.2 x 23.5 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Dr. Barry R. Harwood
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Gebrüder Thonet. Settee for Dolls, mid 1880's. Copper beech, modern caning, 12 1/4 x 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (31.1 x 36.2 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. Barry R. Harwood, 84.277. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.277_PS6.jpg)
overall, 84.277_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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Settee for dolls, steam-bent beech wood. Typical bentwood settee form, miniature for doll size. The rear legs, stiles and back made from a single length of wood into which are set two horseshoe-shaped open back rests, and from which horizontally extends a long, irregular, oval-shaped seat, and above, a pair of sinuous arms that begin vertically at the back, then descend horizontally to form arms, and then vertically again to support the front of the seat rail and form front legs. Model No. 1.
CONDITION: Numerous surface gouges and scratches, none recent. Two arm/leg pieces are not identically splayed. Chair was recaned by donor to match original cane, was recently damaged.
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