In Plain Sight
Discovering the Furniture of Nathaniel Gould
In Plain Sight: Discovering the Furniture of Nathaniel Gould is the stunning result of happy accident and indefatigable, dedicated research. In the field of early American furniture made in Massachusetts, Nathaniel Gould has loomed as something of a mystery -- believed to have been prolific, handsomely skilled, and exceptionally enterprising, yet considered elusive because of a scarcity of known works, lack of documentation, and difficulties of attribution. Accident -- the unexpected discovery of Gould's day books and account book in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society -- and analysis -- painstaking and inductive -- have produced an invaluable, multifaceted case study.
This book establishes Gould unquestionably as Salem's leading cabinetmaker before and during the period of the American Revolution. He made substantial and often expensive furniture, including case pieces of bomb form embellished with carving. The number of works that can be attributed to Gould remains small, but the foundation for increasingly assured connoisseurship lies within these pages and Gould's archival records. The scale of his workshop, his impressively large, diverse clientele, and his successes in Salem's furniture export trade attest to his achievements as an entrepreneur.
However, this book illuminates not only a particular individual, but the Salem/Boston/New England spheres in which Gould operated during a tumultuous time in American history. The scrupulously recorded notations in his ledgers are precious clues to emerging concepts of style and taste, cultural mores, business practices, socio-economic circumstances, and familial histories with local, regional, and national relevance.
In Plain Sight presents a choice array of forms confidently assigned to Gould's shop, and makes accessible the ledgers themselves, meticulously analyzed and interpreted to facilitate present and ongoing scholarship regarding Nathaniel Gould, Salem, early New England furniture, and colonial America.
Giles, 9781907804335, 184pp.
Publication Date: October 14, 2014