On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
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."
Rosewood veneer, other woods
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)
Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor
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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)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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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.
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