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Cover for Classical Splendor

Classical Splendor

Painted Furniture for a Grand Philadelphia House

Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley, Peggy A. Olley, Jeffrey A. Cohen (Contributions by)


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This handsome book explores in depth a group of stunning painted and gilded furniture designed by the architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764–1820), best known for originating the plans for the United States Capitol. The furniture was made in Philadelphia for one of the city’s finest houses—the home of William and Mary Wilcocks Waln, which Latrobe also designed. Drawing on a multiyear conservation and research project, Classical Splendor reveals new insights into the patrons, makers, and history behind these extraordinary pieces. In addition to extensively documenting each item, the book attests to Latrobe’s significant contributions to American furniture design—his pieces for the Waln house introduced, and served as exemplars of, a classical style rooted in ancient Greek and Roman design. 

Yale University Press, 9780300221718, 160pp.

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

About the Author

Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley is the Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts and Peggy A. Olley is the associate conservator of furniture and woodwork, both at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Jeffrey A. Cohen is senior lecturer and chair of the Growth and Structure of Cities Program at Bryn Mawr College.