Chair-Tables: A History and Evolution of Form and Function That Created a Lasting Legacy

dc.contributor.advisorFitzgerald, Oscar P
dc.contributor.authorKnapp, Courtney
dc.creatorKnapp, Courtney
dc.descriptionThis document has been embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until July 2021 at the earliest.
dc.description.abstractHeretofore overlooked, the history of chair-tables remained obscure and largely unexamined by furniture historians. Since chair-tables were understudied yet survive in large quantities, an in depth study of these objects is long overdue. Chair-tables arrived in America after existing in Europe for over two centuries. The transition from Europe to the American colonies created discernible differences between American chair-tables and their European counterparts. The form has been produced since the fifteenth century and continues being made in the twenty-first century. How were chair-tables used historically? Did their use vary by gender or ethnicity? How common was their use in America? How did the form evolve over time? Using a material culture methodology, the long history of chair-tables will be examined to uncover their significance as objects of status, utility, and symbolic importance. By evaluating primary sources, including wills, probate inventories, and chairmaker bills, the historic uses and values of chair-tables were uncovered. Once seventeenth and eighteenth century American chair-tables were defined and described, the evolution of the form was traced from a purely useful object to its growing symbolism in the twentieth century when the form became a medium for artistic expression. After surveying nearly two hundred surviving examples, distinct regional characteristics appeared amongst groups of chair-tables and documented the history of American settlement since 1633. These forms have preserved cultural identities, stylistic evolution, and social reform movements through decorative elements and construction techniques. As a result, chair-tables prove to be stylish and culturally significant forms deserving a prominent place in the canon of American furniture. Future researchers can use the research presented to continue studying chair-tables and evaluate the form as a connoisseur. The study of chair-tables is innovative because it evaluates pieces that are not considered elite objects, and it encourages researchers to consider other previously disregarded furniture forms when making their own contributions to the field.
dc.subjectMonk's bench
dc.titleChair-Tables: A History and Evolution of Form and Function That Created a Lasting Legacy
dc.typeThesis of Decorative Arts Mason University's of Arts in History of Decorative Arts


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