Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Canopy Bed

The Canopy bed has alot of associations with it, and dates back much earlier than 1815. Early canopy beds could be used to shelter people from bugs or insects in the outside world. While canopy beds in medieval Europe were used as a display of wealth and protection, even though they were less extravagant and detailed as those formerly created in the 1800's. The 1815 canopy bed is shaped by natural materials such as birch, mahogany, and pine in such a way to create elaborate patterns that are woven throughout the structure. While the pine headboard and birch railing may geometricise the structure of the bed, the many small delicate carving of acanthus flowers shown on the foot posts of the bed create a natural aesthetic. The dimensions (89.25"H x 63"W x 78"D) of the bed suggest that two or three people could sleep comfortably on it.

The Conflict
Contemporary beds such as the water bed share little in common with its predecessor. The structure of the canopy bed does not suggest that it can hold hundreds of gallons of water, wheras the water bed has a solid framework that covers the entire edge of the bed to support the pressure. One important feature also not present in the water bed and other beds of the contemporary time period is the relationship of the foot posts. These foot posts suggest a strong relationship to the figures that interact with the bed. Two elaborate foot posts for two powerful individuals. As far as materials is concerned the water bed is completely contructed of oak, which is not present in the canopy bed.

Common Ground
The empress Josephine's bed and canopy bed have many similarities across two different styles. This bed was created in the same time period as the 1815 canopy bed. The Creator however was napoleon's decorators, which suggests the contrasting in styles. This bed is truly an indication of importance and power, just as the canopy bed, though I would still say the empress's bed is slightly more detailed. Shelter also stands out as a common ground for these varying styles. Both beds were created to hang drapes over to form a more intimate space for the individuals. The empress bed, while still able to sleep in, has more of a ceremonial gesture to it, which is suggested through the opened drapes that partially allow the outside world in.

The 1815 canopy bed today
The Nichole's House museum holds this artifact in their collection. The Nichole Family attained this piece in 1960.

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