Grecian Couch (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

maple, original blue-green paint, yellow paint, gilt decorations; reproduction rush seat, original English gilt brass mounts by Messenger and Sons, Birmingham, England;
United States,Pennsylvania,probably Philadelphia,
Overall: 32 1/4 × 66 1/4 × 19 in. (81.92 × 168.28 × 48.26 cm)

In the early 1800s, American furniture designers remained closely attuned to European fashions – including le gôut grec (the Greek taste). This particular wave of neoclassicism swept England and the Continent, celebrating ancient Greece for its “purity of design.”

Often produced in pairs, Grecian couches usually flanked a fireplace within the drawing room. This example’s scrolling arm, curved sides, and swept-back saber legs recall the simple, elegant lines appreciated in Greek forms – particularly the klismos chairs pictured on ancient vases. The couch’s painted and stenciled surface, however, is an American treatment favored in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. The original blue-green pigment was uncovered during careful conservation treatment that involved removing an 1880s coating of black paint.

Floyd D. and Anne C. Gottwald Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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