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Rather Elegant Than Showy

Rather Elegant Than Showy

by Robert Mussey, Clark Pearce

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Product Details


ISBN: 978-1-56792-619-4
Pages: 312
Size: 9.5 x 12"
Published: April 2018
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Winner of the 2019 Historic New England Book Prize A meticulous, lavishly illustrated, contribution to the history of American furniture: the late 18th and early 19th century work of Boston craftsman, Isaac Vose. Isaac Vose (1767-1823) was well known in his day among style-conscious Bostonians, his name synonymous with furniture of the highest quality and advanced design. His shop, the “first on Boston Neck,” was in a prominent location and served as a familiar landmark in his South End neighborhood. Throughout the 1820s, 1830s, and as late as 1843, some nineteen years after Vose’s death, auction advertisements explicitly cited his name as the maker of select furniture, with the association connoting quality and calculated to increase its sale price. Included in this book is a 70-page guide to evaluating furniture by Vose, his partners, employees and contemporaries based on construction and connoisseurship. Additionally, the authors bring to life the tradespeople and their customers in Boston in that era, creating a cultural history as well. This book gathers in one volume all the known works of Vose as well as those attributed to him, and it is gorgeously illustrated throughout. Isaac Vose’s work should gain recognition for its outstanding contributions to an American vision of classical style.
[This] brilliant new book... is meticulous and nearly exhaustive, its prose confident, graceful and laced with humor. Mussey and Pearce skillfully bring to life the we of professional and personal relationships among tradespeople and their customers in Boston, creating cultural history with transcendent appeal. —Antiques and the Arts Weekly

Monumental. Monumental - like the furniture itself - is the first word that comes to mind to describe both the scope and the achievement of the project documenting the life and art of cabinetmaker Isaac Vose... Lavishly illustrated and with a design that itself is 'rather elegant than showy’, this volume deserves much applause - and a spot in the library of collectors, scholars and curators. —The Magazine Antiques

Author: Robert Mussey

Robert D. Mussey Jr. was founder in 1982 of the furniture conservation laboratory at Society at the Preservation of New England Antiquities in Boston. He was founder and is now retired as a principal in Robert Mussey Associates, which provides comprehensive furniture conservation services to museums, private collectors, and historic houses. He has published widely in museum journals on a variety of furniture conservation topics, is author of The Furniture Masterworks of John and Thomas Seymour, and curator of a major museum exhibition of the Seymours’ work. Now retired, he is at work on a study of the earliest introduction of woodworking machinery in the furniture making trades.

Author: Clark Pearce
Clark Pearce advises and brokers art and antiques to a group of clients with far-ranging interests. He helps define and shape their collections in logical ways, building on their particular interests and strengths. His specialty is American furniture, and he also works with early silver, ceramics, paintings, and other decorative arts from the early-18th-century through the 19th-century. As an independent scholar he does primary historical research on many topics related to American decorative arts. He has published many articles in scholarly journals and magazines, with a chapter in the upcoming book Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture.