Friday, February 14, 2014

A Beautiful Heart

         Blah blah blah it's Valentine's Day. This is my least favorite holiday. I'm actually already celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The irish folk music's been playing on my pandora station for almost a week now already. But that's ok. I know you like Valentine's Day, and I'm here for you- so here's a holiday appropriate post.
         The heart motif has been around in the decorative arts for many centuries. In American design we most commonly associate this decorative element with the antiques produced in Dutch and Germanic influenced colonies- New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania primarily. You see the heart pop up time and again on Fraktur, blanket chests and the like from that region. It is much more rare to find a heart motif on a New England object. Over the years we've had a couple pretty extraordinary items that have featured the heart motif. I've included a few of my favorites below. All images are from - where I work. :)

Happy Valentine's Day. My husband is going to make me watch Gravity tonight, because nothing says true love like floating off into a cold, dark, endless abyss.

There is a very important group of chairs coming out of Connecticut during the mid-18th Century. Antiques Experts refer to these as "Heart and Crown" chairs. Robert Trent wrote a terrific book on the group a while back. You can check out his book here 

So in essence this is a modification on the more standard bannister back chair that was a transitional piece from the William and Mary to Queen Anne periods. The heart and crown crest adds an irresistible dose of charm. 

Here is a phenomenal Queen Anne Highboy from Connecticut- 1760-1785. The inclusion of the pierced heart along the apron is fantastic and as rare as chicken's teeth. Though the drawer arrangement is traditional to the Wethersfield, CT school, the apron and legs point to an origin of Coastal Eastern, CT- perhaps Stonington or Mystic. Large pieces of furniture were often given as wedding gifts from parents to young couples. This chest may have been made for just such a purpose. 

Close up on the beautiful carving. This piece now belongs to a friend of mine, and is located less than
5 miles from my house. 

Another variation on the heart and crown form- this time as an exception armchair. 

The turnings, form, and condition on this chair make it top shelf. 

An amusing take on the york or fiddleback chair form, with a hint of Chippendale influence here. 

These little boxes were often given as gifts to sweet hearts, so it's no surprise that hearts were frequently used to decorate their interior and exterior. 

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