Where would a Dilettante be without his readers?  Tracing design sources is a great interest of mine, but sometimes the answers elude me.  When I mentioned in last week’s post that the remarkable bed of former Red Sox owner Thomas Yawkey rang a faint bell, but I couldn’t remember why, Toby Worthington stepped up to the plate, as it were, with the answer:
The Yawkey bed was based on plate 41 in Thomas Sheraton’s The Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book, published in 1791—“A Summer Bed in Two Compartments”. (above)


Thomas Yawkey’s bedroom at 992 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, photographed in 1935 (MCNY)

Sheraton, along with his near contemporary Thomas Hepplewhite, and the earlier Thomas Chippendale, was one of the three great furniture designers (four, if one counts the architect Robert Adam, who often had Chippendale execute his designs), and like the others, spread his style and fame by publishing pattern books that could be used by other cabinetmakers.   


Designs for bed posts from Thomas Chippendale’s  The Cabinet-Maker’s  Directory
Just as with the architectural pattern books of the era, like Asher Benjamin’s American Builder’s Companion, these books provided suggested designs, often with mix or match options, along with rules for achieving correct proportions, that helped many a provincial cabinetmaker turn out pieces of compelling beauty, rarely making a wrong move.


Two bed designs, with suggestions for hangings, by Thomas Chippendale
 The Yawkey bed does not appear to be antique in the photos, but rather a decorator’s inspiration carried out by a talented cabinetmaker.   Rather than the neo-classical design of Sheraton’s bed, the rococco cornice details are earlier, and more Chippendale in inspiration. as seen in the plates above from Thomas Chippendales The Cabinetmaker’s Directory.
Cornice designs by Chippendale

Readers may remember the Chinoiserie bedroom in ‘Huntland’, the Joseph Thomas house in Virginia, with its dramatic bed later owned by Doris Duke, the design taken directly from plates in Chippendale’s Directory.

The bedroom at ‘Huntland’, and  design sources for the bed, below

Plates from Chippendale’s Director from Metropolitan Museum website


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