Skip Navigation


Decorative Arts and Design

In both form and decoration, this bed embodies the robust exuberance of the Rococo Revival style in America. In construction, it reflects the nineteenth-century fascination with technological innovation. Although the bed has its stylistic roots in the Rococo style of the eighteenth century, its manufacture was entirely modern. It was made in the shop of John Henry Belter, a German-born craftsman who began working in New York City in the 1840s. Belter used laminated construction in his furniture, a system of manufacture that allowed a strong and relatively lightweight material to be bent into the elaborate serpentine shapes so much a part of the fashion of the time. Although laminated wood was not his invention, Belter did patent a number of innovations throughout his career. The patent for this bed, dated August 19, 1856, boasts that it can be disassembled easily in case of fire and that its construction eliminates the intricate joints and recesses around the individual parts of ordinary bedsteads, areas "notorious as hiding places for bugs."
MEDIUM Rosewood veneer, other woods
  • Place Manufactured: New York, New York, United States
  • DATES ca. 1856
    DIMENSIONS Headboard: 65 1/2 x 58 1/2 in. (166.4 x 148.6 cm) Footboard: 36 x 58 1/2 in. (91.4 x 148.6 cm) Depth of Bed: 83 in. (210.8 cm) Overall: 65 1/2 x 58 1/2 x 83 in. (166.4 x 148.6 x 210.8 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Bed: laminated rosewood with carved and pierced decoration; head and foot are serpentine in shape surmounted with carved decoration of oak leaves and acorns and a central carved cartouche of an angel. A short section of the side rails is carved and upholstered in striped satin material. There is a box spring mattress and a mattress. Condition: good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION John Henry Belter (American, born Germany, 1804–1863). Bed, ca. 1856. Rosewood veneer, other woods, Headboard: 65 1/2 x 58 1/2 in. (166.4 x 148.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor, 39.30. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.39.30_detail.jpg)
    IMAGE detail, CUR.39.30_detail.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.