From bright floral to faux grain, the tradition of paint-decorated furniture was enriching to the mundane lives of 18th and 19th century Americans. The desire to create functional, affordable, and appealing furniture for ordinary citizens spurred the approach to beautifying utilitarian furniture. The techniques were laborious and the outcome timeless. Artisans used a variety of tools and handmade paints to achieve the motifs, which drew inspiration from their motherland of Germany.
Functional furniture was made of a maple, pine, walnut, or a fruitwood and often featured dovetail or mortise and tenon joinery, and peg fasteners. The sturdy construction was generally plain; straight lines with simple turns and tapered, round, or straight legs. The square chair seats were likely made of wood or rush; cabinet door and other handles and pulls of wood or iron. Paneling and spindles modestly adorned the surface to create an appealing yet simple look.
The sturdy and practical furniture of the Colonial communities began to transform into appealing art pieces with a few coats of paint and a skilled craftsman. The painter was equipped with a toolbox containing brushes, combs made of wood, shell, horn, or hide, rollers, sponges, even feathers other found objects to achieve the look he wanted. The artist and his apprentice would grind imported pigments - not yet a readily available commodity in America - and mix them with a binding agent. Using his tools, the artisan would apply several layers of paint creating patterns representative of exotic wood grains. This technique would usually cover an entire piece of furniture, often in arrangements that resembled marquetry. He might create a vibrant composition of floral designs featuring daisies, tulips, and sunflowers. Birds also made a frequent appearance amongst the cheerful flourishes characteristic of the Pennsylvania Deutsch furniture. .
The paint-decorated furniture of early America is defined by the bold and often vibrant colors with painted motifs inspired by the deep rooted Germanic culture of the Pennsylvanian Deutsch community. Even at 200 years old, the furniture is vivacious both in appearance and construction making it popular amongst collectors across the nation. There are several great American Folk Art collections that are certain to host fine pieces of American painted furniture; we have listed a few below. If you are interested in beginning or adding to your own collection, be sure to take a look at the astounding Marcy Carsey Collection for auction on iGavelAuctions.com, now through June 6, 2017.
Must See Collections: http://folkartmuseum.org/http://www.goschenhoppen.org/museums/folklife-museum.html
For more information on American pained furniture, check out: American Painted Furniture: by Cynthia V.A. Schaffner and Susan Kelin http://www.connectedlines.com/styleguide/style07.htmhttp://jeffbridgman.com/html/furniture.htm