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


Patricia E. Kane With Dennis Carr, Nancy Goyne Evans, Jennifer N. Johnson, and Gary R. Sullivan

The most comprehensive publication available to date on the topic, Art and Industry in Early America examines furniture made throughout Rhode Island from the earliest days of the settlement to the late Federal period. This stunning volume features nearly 400 illustrations of beautifully constructed and carved objects—including chairs, high chests, bureau tables, and clocks—that demonstrate the superb workmanship and artistic skill of the region’s furniture makers. Written by distinguished scholars, the book presents new information on the export trade, patronage, artistic collaboration, and small-scale shop traditions that defined early Rhode Island craftsmanship. In addition to iconic, stylish pieces from important centers of production like Newport and Providence and by well-known makers such as John Goddard and Samuel and Joseph Rawson, Jr., the catalogue showcases simpler examples made in smaller towns. More than 100 catalogue entries detail marks and inscriptions, bibliography, and provenance and feature many new photographs, encouraging a deeper understanding of this dynamic school of American furniture making.


2017 Charles F. Montgomery Prize

2017 Historic New England Book Prize

Art and Industry” will long serve as standard reference materials. [Its] excellent essays, beautiful images, detailed references, and inclusion of information such as museum accession (or inventory) numbers (too often missing) will be useful for many scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts of early American furniture. —Christine Ritok, New England Quarterly

Impressive … the most up-to-date analysis of Rhode Island decorative art currently available … sure to be considered the American furniture community’s handbook for the foreseeable future. —Genevieve Wheeler Brown, New Criterion

The catalog is an essential volume for those interested in Colonial and Federal-era furniture. Aside from outstanding essays, it includes thorough object entries… . Containing enough construction and design specifics to delight any furniture connoisseur, the catalogue is equally abundant in biographical, cultural, social, economic and geographical context. The perspective is macro as well as micro. —Kate Eagen Johnson, Antiques and the Arts Weekly

The exhaustive catalogue … not only recounts the history of and rise and fall of handcrafted furniture production in early Rhode Island over the course of roughly two centuries, but also examines the role of furniture makers in the local and international economy.The Magazine Antiques

This first major survey of Rhode Island furniture presents some of Colonial America’s most significant artistic expression … The 392 color plates are superb, as are the contributions by Kane and four historians… . With its excellent pictures, analysis of materials, dimensions, inscriptions, and information about provenance, this brilliant, scholarly presentation is an important addition to the literature on American decorative arts. —W. L. Whitwell, Choice