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Reception Chair

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Reception Chair

Artist: Heywood Brothers and Co. (Gardner, Mass. active 1826-1897)

Date: 1890
Medium: Wood, rattan
Overall: 44 x 33 x 20in. (111.8 x 83.8 x 50.8cm)
Signed: paper label: "No. __/ HEYWOOD BROS. & CO./ GARDNER, MASS. USA"
Credit Line: 75th Anniversary Acquisition. Museum purchase, by exchange, with funds from Gregory Smith in memory of Margaret Skinner Smith and from the Estate of Sarah T. Norris.
Object number: 2009.3
Label Text
Wicker furniture is constructed from rattan, a name that refers to a group of vines found mostly in Asia. Though used for millennia by civilizations across the globe, American entrepreneur Cyrus Wakefield, founder of Wakefield Rattan Co., is credited with reintroducing wicker furniture to the New England market in the 1840s.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, wicker furniture appealed to consumers for several reasons. Its material and construction allowed for fanciful shapes and it was significantly less expensive than high-style wood furniture. Lightweight and durable, Wicker furniture was easily moved around multifunctional rooms, and it was comfortable. The association of wicker furniture with the Far East also coincided with the American public's craze for goods from Japan and China. Wicker furniture was available in countless forms including cradles, music stands, baby carriages, shelving, and all varieties of tables and seating furniture.