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Settee for Dolls

Decorative Arts

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.
MANUFACTURER Gebrüder Thonet
MEDIUM Copper beech, modern caning
  • Place Made: Vienna, Austria
  • DATES mid 1880's
    DIMENSIONS 12 1/4 x 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (31.1 x 36.2 x 23.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Dr. Barry R. Harwood
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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
    IMAGE overall, 84.277_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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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    Settee for Dolls