Friday, August 24, 2012

Baltimore Painted "Fancy" furniture 1790-1840

Pier Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, c. 1822 Baltimore; attributed to Hugh Finlay & Co. (fl. 1803-1830)

 Founded in 1729, Baltimore is the largest U.S. seaport in the Mid-Atlantic and is situated closer to major Midwestern markets than any other major seaport on the East Coast. Because of this feature grain coming from the West came to Baltimore’s port first to be exported, passing up other big city’s like Philadelphia and New York city. By 1803 Baltimore was America's 3rd largest city behind New York and Philadelphia. Baltimore became a very rich and powerful city during the late 18th century and early 19th century.  During this period wealthy Baltimorean's indulged in taking the "Grand Tour" of Europe and brought back to Baltimore fine furniture, exquisite decorative arts and paintings to furnish Georgian & Federal style Town houses and Summer Homes built in the classical style just outside of Baltimore city. Some of the fine luxury items brought back from Europe would influence local decorative arts and furniture.   

 
A Classical Marbleized, Grained, and Stenciled Pier Table Decoration attributed to Hugh Finlay (1781-1831), Baltimore, 1820-1825


Settee by Thomas S. Renshaw (b. ca. 1780) and John Barnhart, Baltimore, MD, 1814–1829. Maple, tulip wood, walnut; with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration



During this period was Baltimore's greatest growth as a commercial and cultural center in America. Baltimore's Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States and a major manufacturing center. Some of the immigrants came to Baltimore with highly skilled trades such as Cabinetmakers, silversmiths, architects, artist etc, ect. Theses artisans came to the growing port city of Baltimore with some of the latest designs from Europe and greatly influenced local architecture, furniture, art and decorative arts.


Sofa Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840)


Baltimore grew swiftly in the late 18th century as a granary for sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. The profit from sugar encouraged the cultivation of cane and the importation of food. The Caribbean was so busy growing sugar and little of anything else the grain grown in American was imported from the port of Baltimore into the Caribbean to feed the people and was greatly depended on at this time making Baltimore a very wealthy city.


A Baltimore classical sofa painted Pompeii red with gilt and flower decoration circa 1815-1825 


A distinctive local culture started to take shape, and a unique skyline peppered with Classical portico churches and elegant marble monuments developed. Baltimore acquired its moniker, "The Monumental City" after an 1827 visit to Baltimore by President John Quincy Adams. At an evening function Adams gave the following toast: "Baltimore: the Monumental City- May the days of her safety be as prosperous and happy, as the days of her dangers have been trying and triumphant."



Armchair made in England repainted in Baltimore Early Neoclassical (Sheraton) style, 1790-1810 England/Baltimore; repainting attributed to John and Hugh Finlay


America during this time has very few real architects working but Baltimore was lucky to have the best architects of the period working here rebuilding the port city into classical acropolis. The English Benjamin H. Latrobe, The Frenchmen Maximilien Godefroy and America's first trained architect Robert Mills, Created a newly built handsome city in a ancient Greek and Roman style. Baltimorean's could not wait to furnish there red brick Federal style row houses and Palladian style Summer homes with Fancy classical archaeological shaped furniture painted with local buildings and homes all trimmed in gold gilt! in the latest fashion.   



A view of Hampton painted on its crest rail.


1830's Baltimore Fancy chairs in the Study of Riversdale Plantation. Riversdale, MD 


Baltimore painted "Fancy" furniture from the period of 1790-1840 is unique in that Baltimore fancy furniture is considered to be some of the finest made in America as well as it seams more painted furniture was produced in Baltimore then other East Coast city's like Philadelphia or New York. Also a great deal of the Fancy furniture produced in Baltimore were made for export the to American South and other places. Newspapers as far a way as New Orleans Louisiana ran advertisements during the early nineteenth century advertising newly arrived shipments of Baltimore Painted "Fancy" furniture for sale. Baltimore painted furniture was also shipped to Mexico, Central America, South America as well as the Caribbean. Painted Baltimore furniture was enjoyed by the Wealthy, middle class and the poor alike. Very fine pieces commissioned by Wealthy early 19th century Baltimorean's are rare and costly today and most pieces are still in the family or in major American museums,  Baltimore painted furniture made for the middle class and poor can be found in Antiques shops today.  

Typical Baltimore Fancy painted black and gilt chairs circa 1820-1840  


Typical Baltimore Fancy painted black and gilt chairs circa 1820-1840  


Typical Baltimore Fancy painted black and gilt chair circa 1820-1840  


Typical Baltimore Fancy painted wine and gilt chair circa 1820-1840  



Painted fancy furniture on the most part was less costly then locally made imported mahogany used in the furniture making industry. The hand carved details and in-lay on Mahogany furniture of the period cost more then a painted surface. Painted furniture were made of local woods like maple, walnut, pine & poplar, The painted decoration on Fancy furniture resembled carvings and costly imported gold gilt ormolu that you would find on American furniture of the period made of imported fine woods. Most of the gold gilt decorations on Baltimore furniture of the period consist of Classical elements taken from ancient Greek and Roman designs. Gilded acanthus leaves, bound fasces, rosettes, anthemia, Swains, sprays of leaves, acorn clusters and winged thunderbolts painted in gold were a Baltimore's Fancy furniture makers substitute for fine ormolu mountings. The gilt painted decorations were usually painted on top of a base color that was often black, but other base colors popular in Baltimore painted furniture are Ivory,  Prussian blue, Antique Green, Cream yellow, gray and red. In Latter painted Baltimore furniture the piece was grained to look like Rosewood or mahogany with stenciled and freehand gilt and polychrome decoration applied on top of the grinning.  

Baltimore fancy side chair Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840)



Center Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840) with “scagliola” top depicting a romantic landscape within an oak leaf border. The top would have been imported from Italy, where pieces of this stone-like composition material were made and decorated.

Pier Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840) with “scagliola” top depicting a romantic landscape within an oak leaf border. The top would have been imported from Italy, where pieces of this stone-like composition material were made and decorated.



One of the most well known of Baltimore Fancy furniture makers were the brothers Hugh and John Finlay. Originally from Ireland and trained in Cabinetmaking there. The Finlay brothers moved to Baltimore at the end of the 18th century and set up a prosperous business on North Gay Street in the center of Baltimore's booming furniture making district. The Finlay's became the top producers of fine Baltimore Fancy painted furniture and seams to be copied by their contemporary fellow cabinetmakers as examples of inferior style pieces copying the Finlays survive today. One of the Finlay's most distinctive features on their painted furniture is the painted vignettes of local Baltimore architectural views as an element of decoration. The views on Finlay furniture mostly cover Baltimore homes and public buildings. 



Pier table attributed to John (1777–1851) and Hugh (1781– 1831) Finlay, Baltimore, MD, 1800–1810. Maple; painted black with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, marble top.


Baltimore painted and gilt Fancy sofa circa 1820 

Typical Baltimore Fancy painted black and gilt chairs circa 1820-1840  




The Highest achievement of Baltimore Fancy furniture came In 1809. Under the Madison's Benjamin H. Latrobe remodeled the interior of the White House and used the Baltimore shop of the Finlays to furnish the oval room of the White House with beautiful painted delicate Fancy furniture that Latrobe design himself. Latrobe's drawings of the furniture is the only thing that exist from this highly important set of Baltimore painted furniture as the British burned the White House shortly after the oval room was decorated. 

A Baltimore painted and gilt pier tale early 19th century 

Typical Baltimore Fancy painted and gilt chair circa 1820-1840  



From my collection a Baltimore painted and gilt side chair circa 1830-1840



From my collection a Baltimore painted and gilt pier table with King of Prussia marble top

Because Baltimore Fancy furniture has painted surfaces a lot of it did not far well over the years, Surfaces were reworked, touched up, over painted or stripped of it's paint.  Legs on tables and chairs were cut down, Baltimore seated furniture of this period mostly had caned or rush seating made to accommodate a silk or satin seat cushion. Over the years some of theses pieces became upholstered.  If you are in Baltimore there are 3 places where you can see good examples of Baltimore painted Fancy furniture. They are the Baltimore Museum of Art,  When you are finished looking at there wonderful collection take a 2 min walk over to Homewood house museum on the campus of Johns Hopkins built in 1801 as a Summer home and you will see how Baltimore Fancy furniture were incorporated into a Baltimore home of the period.  Outside of Baltimore city in Towson, MD is Hampton National Historic Site a 18th century Georgian mansion, elegantly furnished with original Baltimore painted Fancy furniture made for the family. If you would like to collect Baltimore Fancy furniture chairs show up  more then other items and could be bought for as low as $50. for one Baltimore Fancy chair. Pieces like sofa's settees, tables are rare and cost a great deal more. But price should be adjusted according to condition of a painted piece. Major museums like the Metropolitan in New York city and Winterthur in Winterthur, DE has amazing collections of some of the finest Baltimore Fancy furniture on view in there collections.

The parlor of Hampton Mansion showing original Baltimore painted Fancy furniture 

The parlor of Hampton Mansion showing original Baltimore painted Fancy furniture 

The parlor of Hampton Mansion showing original Baltimore painted Fancy furniture 

Card Table Baltimore, c. 1815 Maker: Thomas S. Renshaw (active in Baltimore 1810-1816) Painter: John Barnhart (active in Baltimore 1814-1829)Wood with polychrome and gilt decoration

Detail of Card Table Baltimore, c. 1815 Maker: Thomas S. Renshaw (active in Baltimore 1810-1816) Painter: John Barnhart (active in Baltimore 1814-1829)Wood with polychrome and gilt decoration

Detail of Card Table Baltimore, c. 1815 Maker: Thomas S. Renshaw (active in Baltimore 1810-1816) Painter: John Barnhart (active in Baltimore 1814-1829)Wood with polychrome and gilt decoration


Detail of Card Table Baltimore, c. 1815 Maker: Thomas S. Renshaw (active in Baltimore 1810-1816) Painter: John Barnhart (active in Baltimore 1814-1829)Wood with polychrome and gilt decoration




Early 19th century painted Baltimore music stand 



A very fine painted Baltimore marble topped pier table at Winterthur

A very fine painted Baltimore marble topped pier table at Winterthur

A very fine painted Baltimore marble topped pier table at Winterthur

A painted Fancy Baltimore card table early 19th century 

Typical Baltimore Fancy painted black and gilt chairs circa 1820-1840  


Detail of a painted Romantic panel painted on a Baltimore card table 

A Baltimore card table early 19th century 

A early 19th century painted Fancy Baltimore card table and side chair 



John and/or Hugh Finlay, Grecian Couch, 1810-1840, walnut, cherry; white pine, poplar, cherry



A painted Baltimore sofa circa 1820-1830

A Baltimore side chair in the Greek style 

A Baltimore side chair in the Greek style 

A early 19th century painted Baltimore settee  attributed to John (1777–1851) and Hugh (1781– 1831) Finlay

Pier table attributed to John (1777–1851) and Hugh (1781– 1831) Finlay, Baltimore, MD, 1800–1810. Maple; painted black with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, marble top. 


Pier table attributed to John (1777–1851) and Hugh (1781– 1831) Finlay, Baltimore, MD, 1800–1810. Maple; painted black with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, marble top. 


Settee by Thomas S. Renshaw (b. ca. 1780) and John Barnhart, Baltimore, MD, 1814–1829. Maple, tulip wood, walnut; with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, cane seat


Settee by Thomas S. Renshaw (b. ca. 1780) and John Barnhart, Baltimore, MD, 1814–1829. Maple, tulip wood, walnut; with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, cane seat


Settee by Thomas S. Renshaw (b. ca. 1780) and John Barnhart, Baltimore, MD, 1814–1829. Maple, tulip wood, walnut; with polychrome and gilt and bronze decoration, cane seat


Center Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840)

Center Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840) with “scagliola” top depicting a romantic landscape within an oak leaf border. The top would have been imported from Italy, where pieces of this stone-like composition material were made and decorated.

Center Table Late Neoclassical (Empire) style, 1832 Baltimore; made by John Finlay (fl. 1799-1840)

A painted Baltimore side char is the Greek taste 

A painted Baltimore side char is the Greek taste 

A painted Baltimore side char is the Greek taste 

A early 19th century painted Baltimore arm chair. 

Painted fancy Cornice by Hugh Finlay. Tulipwood. circa 1828

19 comments:

  1. Dear Andrew -
    Thanks so much for your recent visit to my blog. I am delighted to find you! Enjoyed this comprehensive and thorough post on Baltimore painted furniture. I collect and sell Swedish painted antiques. I recently visited Winterthur and blogged about it. That is a lovely pier table...and the painted Zuber wallpaper is divine.
    Cheers from DC,
    Loi

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Loi thanks for your comment. I started this post over 6 months ago and finely finished it now. I love Winterthur and the collections. I love the Winterthur pier table and Zuber wallpaper! Wish I had them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello dear.You have written a great post. Going to share with my followers on twitter. Thanks for sharing.

    Antique furniture

    ReplyDelete
  4. I too love the Winterthur pier table and Zuber wallpaper!Great post thanks for sharing.
    Back Support Chairs

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your post is really good providing good information.. I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such important posts. Furniture manufacturers

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is so cool. I am such a huge fan of their work. I really am impressed with how much you have worked to make this website so enjoyable furniture manufacturers

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for sharing. The chairs are my favorite, I would love a few for my kitchen table. I always find the best fine art antiques in CA.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The best place to study Chinese online is in China. However, we understand that it isn't always possible to move here to study Chinese language. The next best thing is to study with our experienced teachers in a virtual classroom. Online students enjoy the same excellent way of mandarin Chinese online lessons and custom designed courseware that we provide for our face to face clients.

    ReplyDelete
  9. These are actually wonderful some ideas in the blog. You have touched good quality points here. In whatever way continue writing. Vine Vine Skin Care

    ReplyDelete
  10. Remarkable stuff in the blog I love the topic as well thanks. life insurance and depression

    ReplyDelete
  11. This text is really worth everyone’s concentration. It sounds really go0o0d. automotive tinting

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for give me this information really this product is very effective. Furniture Manufacturers produce different kinds of furniture, including furniture for the office, bathroom, kitchen, garden, bedroom, hotel and outdoor use...!

    Contact Us
    Damian Corporate Private Limited
    Damian House, 14 Hill Road, Bandra(W),
    Mumbai -400 050. INDIA
    +91 22 6136 6136

    ReplyDelete
  13. Appreciation for really being really thoughtful and also for deciding on certain marvelous guides most people are really wanting to be aware of.
    __________________
    Seating manufacturer

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice information...you blog...
    Furniture coast to coast has launched the online furniture shop in USA. Furniturecoasttocoast.com offers home and office furniture in a wide range of styles from wooden furniture, wicker furniture, soft furniture, antique reproduction furniture and much more.


    Furniture Coast To Coast Online Furniture Store

    ReplyDelete