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Barnhart, John / painting only
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
poplar –walnut
HOA: 33; WOA: 79; DOA: 23
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Paint-decorated bow front settee with cane seat; one long continuous crest rail painted with background of red with gold striping and key decoration, four painted panels of landscapes; rails in back create four “X” splats that are painted red with gold striping and decorations; ten legs; front of back posts painted gold, some worn; angled at sides; images of musical instruments painted on center medallions of each front stretcher.

ATTRIBUTION: The form and ornamentation of this settee, with the exception of the caned seat, is almost identical to a side chair, ca. 1820, in the possession of the Maryland Historical Society. In the catalog for the Baltimore Museum of Art exhibition “Baltimore Painted Furniture, 1800-1840,” William Elder writes that the “large panel of the crest rail is decorated with gilt striping and a key design and with a romantic landscape similar to those employed on the painted furniture made by Thomas Renshaw and ornamented by John Barnhart. There is gilt striping on the turned supports and X-shaped back. The turned front legs are similarly striped, and a gilt armorial trophy is found on the front stretcher” (see p. 45, and catalog nos. 19-22).

MAKER: John Barnhart, sign and ornamental painter, was first listed in the Baltimore City Directory in 1799. Barnhart may have been in business with Windsor chairmaker Thomas Renshaw for a time, since a fancy painted settee in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art is inscribed with both of their names on the rear seat rail. The naturalistic scenes on the signed settee are very similar to the scenes on the MESDA settee (Acc. 1124), chairs (Acc. 2386.1-2), and table (Acc. 2387).

FORM: The leg and stretcher turnings appear on many Baltimore examples. The walnut seat is typical of Baltimore japanned furniture.

WOODS: poplar with walnut cane seat.

Credit Line:
Purchase Fund