The Figure in the Grain: Furniture, Merchants, and the Imagination in Boston, 1660-1800


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of the History of Art


My dissertation considers the relationship between Boston furniture and the imagination. I focus on four diverse groups of furniture produced between 1660 and 1800. While seventeenth-century furniture was imagined to be animate, a new style of furniture emerged out of the demands of Boston's mercantile culture to restrain the idea that furniture had its own life. The course and difficulty of maintaining this restraint are the primary subjects of my dissertation. In its investigation of the interface of furniture, merchants, and the imagination, my project shows how furniture, a body of material long relegated to the margins of art history, was both determined by and a determinant of the values and uncertainties of the culture in which it was produced.