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American Chippendale Beds

While American Chippendale furniture tended to the very decorative side with high degrees of carving and ornamenting. Construction methods too saw considerable development. However in the area of beds things did not progress in the same way. Most American Chippendale beds remained fairly simple, without the fancy carving, reeding, or fluting, without turnings by ring, ball, or vase.

Indeed George Washington himself, at Mount Vernon, spent his last hours in a plain framed Chippendale type bed, ordered by Martha Washington in the 1790's, with turned but undecorated posts, the bed, in its simplicity, standing in contrast to the other furniture in the master bedroom there. The bed's tester remains plain strips of wood to hang curtains from.

Mt. Vernon, Washington's bedroom where he died December 14, 1799.
Mt. Vernon, Washington's bedroom where he died December 14, 1799.

While European followers of Chippendale designs, as found in his The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director were pulling out all the stops, whether it be with cabriole legs, decorative headboards, carved posts, and canopy frames with elaborate, artistic cornices, in America there seems to have been a lack of demand for ornate beds. Perhaps this is due to the workmanlike, industrious nature of the American colonies, with beds simply being places to rest after a day's work, or places to die in - in neither case would carving on the bedposts be of any import.

An exception to the plain and simple beds rule arrived in about the 1780's with the advent of field or tent beds.

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