National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Settee--Sheraton Style Settee--Sheraton Style
Rendered by Charles Henning (artist), c. 1939
watercolor and graphite on paperboard
overall: 35.5 x 49.6 cm (14 x 19 1/2 in.)
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Furniture from the Index of American Design
Object 24 of 26

The tradition of painted decoration goes back to the vogue for "Japanning" prevalent in the William and Mary and the Queen Anne periods. Sheraton "fancy furniture," with painted decoration, was exceedingly popular in the early nineteenth century. Handsomely painted settees, blending two or three chair backs into a single unit, were produced in a variety of designs for use in fashionable drawing rooms. This settee, made about 1800 in New York City, features the popular Sheraton urn and floral motifs, which were favored by New York craftsmen. Dark backgrounds, such as that seen on this piece, were commonly used and were produced by applying layers of varnishes over deep brown, green, or black paint. Here, the background provides a striking contrast to the touches of light green, cream, pink, and white used to highlight the urn of flowers. Delicately painted white blossoms adorn the uprights of the seat back and of the arms and legs; they are reminiscent of the carved rosettes found on other Sheraton furniture.

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