American Arts & Crafts Furniture

Simplicity and straightforwardness of construction has always been the leading characteristic of Craftsman furniture.

This statement — by arguably one of the most important and influential leaders of the American Arts and Crafts movement — is widely reflected in the Two Red Roses Foundation’s diverse and unmatched collection of furniture designed and produced during the early twentieth century. The Arts and Crafts movement in United States was marked by the spirit of reform and the belief that traditional craftsmanship could ennoble a society overcome by rampant industrialization. Simplicity in style and honesty in construction had the power to transform a utilitarian object into a beautiful one, enhancing the lives of both maker and user. The artisan furniture makers of the Arts and Crafts movement interpreted this philosophy in sturdy oak and rich mahogany, as well as chestnut, cedar, elm, cherry, even cypress. With the addition of hammered iron straps and handles, inlaid metals and beveled glass, tooled leather and ceramic tiles, the objects they produced were diverse, useful, and, above all, beautiful.

Examples of furniture held in the TRRF collection are often rare, one-of-a-kind, and in original and pristine condition. Among the prominent designers and makers represented in the collection are L. & J. G. Stickley, the Stickley Brothers, the Roycroft Shops, Greene & Greene, Charles Rohlfs, the Byrdcliffe Colony, Rose Valley, John Bradstreet, and George Maher.

A brilliant catalogue, “So Various Are the Forms It Assumes”: American Arts and Crafts Furniture from the Two Red Roses Foundation (2014), written by noted scholar and author David Cathers, examines in great detail the artists, art, and enterprises that fueled the movement. Hundreds of color photographs of nearly two hundred objects selected from the Two Red Roses Foundation’s extensive collection are presented alongside archival photographs and examinations of their design and fabrication. A special appendix highlights the designers and craftsmen appearing in the book, with a history of their firms and working practices.

The objects shown below respresent a small sample of the furniture collection displayed in the museum. Click or tap for a larger view.