Eighteenth-Century Furniture Design

May 23, 2009-February 21, 2010

Conant Gallery

This exhibition will present more than 30 eighteenth-century prints of furniture design from France, Germany and especially England as well as related pieces of furniture, all drawn from the IMA’s permanent collection. Together, they illustrate the major stylistic developments of one of the most significant periods of European decorative arts.

The design of furniture has always involved the dual concerns of functional need and aesthetic choice. It is directly related to architecture and interior design as well as the fine arts. In the eighteenth century, furniture was designed by artists, architects and cabinet makers and often engraved and published. Some of the most famous authors of published manuals of furniture design will be represented, including Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. These prints provided models for individual craftsman or gentleman clients. They reflected current fashions ranging from the graceful, organic curves of the Rococo to the sober, geometric forms of Neoclassicism. International influences and personal interpretations of the dominant trends brought great dimension and variety to the design of furniture. Elegance and refinement characterized the period's best works.

Image credit: George Hepplewhite, Double Chest of Drawers, 1787, engraving, Director’s Discretionary Fund, 73.2.125.

Indianapolis Museum of Art 4000 Michigan Rd., Indianapolis, IN