Milo M. Naeve


Relatively recent interest in American furniture as a humanist discipline is revealed by shifting intellectual foundations for attributions. Changes typically are evident in opinions about a rare form of New England side chair. It dates from about 1730 to about 1760 and lacks documentation for origin. The design is unique in American furniture. It holds dynamic appeal among connoisseurs for the remarkably successful variation of contemporary English fashion through the bold interaction of curves. Judgments about the source of the side chairs have shifted over the last century from "American" to "Job Townsend, father or son, of Newport in the Rhode Island colony" and, recently, to "Boston in the Massachusetts Bay colony." The attributions are assessed in this article and the chairs reassigned to "Coastal New England." This shift from the general to the specific and back to the general is a common sequence within the greater depth and wider scope of research since 1930.