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Curatorial discoveries bring interpretive spice to Lorenzo

18th century upholstery, signatures and handwriting, bullet holes in furniture add to the Lincklaen family story

Lorenzo officials Sharon Cooney, interpretive programs assistant and volunteer docent coordinator, left, Barbara Bartlett, director of Lorenzo, center, and Jacqueline Vivirito, curatorial associate, examine the “harvest table” in the mansion’s formal dining room and the way it can extend out to accomodate a larger number of people. A recent conservation study revealed that the table had not only drop leaves, but also a swivel top, swivel legs and drop down legs to hold up a table extension.

Lorenzo officials Sharon Cooney, interpretive programs assistant and volunteer docent coordinator, left, Barbara Bartlett, director of Lorenzo, center, and Jacqueline Vivirito, curatorial associate, examine the “harvest table” in the mansion’s formal dining room and the way it can extend out to accomodate a larger number of people. A recent conservation study revealed that the table had not only drop leaves, but also a swivel top, swivel legs and drop down legs to hold up a table extension. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— “So more than likely this is what the Lorenzo sofa was like,” Bayne said. “It was for guests or visitors for extra sleeping arrangements.” He said it probably also was used for family servants: maids, nurses or nannies that would have needed to be near the family during the night.

All of these unique discoveries, as well as the presence of the original fabric, made the Lorenzo sofa an international textile and furniture sensation. The Met organized an entire conference around the sofa and Bayne and his staff presented the sofa at an upholstery conference in Sweden. Bayne and others have also published multiple articles about the sofa, he said, “but we’d like to publish something in a Lorenzo publication.”

Today, the Lorenzo sofa is back in the mansion’s formal dining room, covered in a reproduction linen weave of the original 1906-era upholstery.

Another more recent discovery from the Lorenzo furniture concerns the formal dining room “harvest table.” The conservation study revealed that the table had not only drop leaves, but also swivel top, swivel legs and drop down legs to hold up a table extension. “It’s a very interesting, very clever table,” Bayne said. “Something you wouldn’t normally see.”

But more interesting than that — especially in furniture and conservation circles — is that the table, which was built in 1834, was almost certainly made by renowned 19th-century cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. “So your table is now a Phyfe,” Bayne said. “There’s probably many more in Lorenzo too.”

Other furniture discoveries Bayne has made in Lorenzo in recent years include Lincklaen family names on some pieces, the furniture maker names on many pieces — names such as Benjamin Clarke and Nehemiah White, who were Cazenovia furniture makers — and the original colors of certain pieces of furniture, such as the dining room chairs.

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