SPECIAL ADVISORY: The Yale University Art Gallery is free and open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday. Masks and COVID-19 vaccination (including booster, if eligible) are required.Review our Visitor Policies

Past Exhibitions
Christopher Townsend, cabinetmaker, and Samuel Casey, silversmith, Desk and Bookcase, Newport, 1745–50. Mahogany (primary); sabicu(?) and mahogany (secondary); silver hardware. Private collection [RIF242]
Carver Chair, Kingstown or Westerly, Rhode Island, 1670–1710. Soft maple; rush seat. Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, Del., Museum Purchase [RIF1748]
High Chest of Drawers, probably Providence, 1710–30. Maple (primary); pine, yellow poplar, and chestnut (secondary). Private collection [RIF5336]
Fall-Front Desk, probably Swansea, Massachusetts (later Warren, Rhode Island), 1700–1730. Walnut and walnut veneer (primary); pine, chestnut, and maple (secondary). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund [RIF5797]
Slant-Front Desk, Bristol, Rhode Island, 1740–60. Walnut and ash(?) and maple inlay (primary); chestnut and pine (secondary). Private collection [RIF1642]
Side Chair, probably Newport, 1730–60. Maple. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Anne H. and Frederick Vogel III, in memory of Mary and John Walton [RIF6074]
Unknown chairmaker and Caleb Gardner, Jr., upholsterer, Easy Chair, Newport, 1758. Walnut (primary); maple (secondary); upholstery: wool on linen ground (flame stitch), wool and silk on linen ground (back panel), silk and cotton (tape covering cord), and silk and wool (flat patterned tape). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, 1950 [RIF768]
Edmund Townsend, Bureau Table, Newport, 1764. Blond mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (secondary). Private collection [RIF685]
Benjamin Baker, High Chest of Drawers, Newport, 1760–75. Mahogany (primary); Spanish cedar, yellow poplar, and pine (secondary). Newport Restoration Foundation, Bequest of Doris Duke [RIF1210]
Attributed to Daniel Spencer, Desk and Bookcase, Providence, 1772–90. Mahogany (primary); American black cherry, chestnut, and eastern white pine (secondary). Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection [RIF3601]
High-Back Windsor Armchair, Newport, 1765–70. Maple and hickory. Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, Del., Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont [RIF1240]
Attributed to James Halyburton, Card Table, Warren, Rhode Island, 1795–1800. Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and light and dark wood inlay (primary); maple and pine (secondary). Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Peter and Daphne Farago Purchase Fund [RIF4259]
Unknown casemaker and James Wady, clockmaker, Tall Case Clock, Newport, 1745–55. Walnut (primary); walnut, maple, birch, chestnut, yellow poplar, and pine (secondary). Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, Del., Gift of Henry Francis du Pont [RIF2303]

Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830

  • August 19, 2016–January 8, 2017
This groundbreaking exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Rhode Island furniture from the colonial and early Federal periods, including elaborately carved chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks. Drawing together more than 130 exceptional objects from museums, historical societies, and private collections, the show highlights major aesthetic innovations developed in the region. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Providence and Newport, the exhibition showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns and for export. The exhibition also addresses the surprisingly broad reach of Rhode Island’s furniture production, from the boom of the export trade at the turn of the 17th century and its steady growth throughout the 18th century to the gradual decline of the handcraft tradition in the 19th century. Reflecting on one of New England’s most important artistic traditions, Art and Industry in Early America encourages a newfound appreciation for this dynamic school of American furniture making. To view a video of a tour given by exhibition curator Patricia E. Kane as well as other videos related to Art and Industry in Early America, visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqJmQZgy9f_dFPp_5ugEsSB2fu8uiU9oh.
Exhibition organized by Patricia E. Kane, Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts. Made possible by generous support from an anonymous donor; Lulu C. and Anthony W. Wang, B.A. 1965; Jeanie Kilroy Wilson; Jane P. Watkins, M.P.H. 1979, and Helen D. Buchanan; and the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional support provided by Jerald Dillon Fessenden, B.A. 1960; Judith and John Herdeg; Sarah Jeffords Radcliffe; Gayle and Howard Rothman; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Wunsch Americana Foundation; the Friends of American Arts at Yale Exhibition and Publication Funds; and the David and Rosalee McCullough Fund.

Related Publication