Sunday, October 12, 2008
*PoSitiOniNg ThE LiNen PrEss***Ashley Blackburn*
The Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony’s Linen Press was constructed in 1904, which, was a time that (as the name indicates) the Arts and Crafts Movement was taking place. Characteristics of Byrdcliffe furniture included: simple designs, often rectilinear in form, hand carving, and natural colored or stained wood surfaces. Ralph Whitehead, and English native and the founder of the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony, was actually the owner of this lovely piece. The linen press stayed in the Whitehead family who then handed it over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Being that Mr. Whitehead was the founder of his own colony of design, I believe it to be safe to say that he and his family were rather wealthy in their time. Although being that he was the head of all his workers, he may not have had the same price, if any at all, as other buyers. I can only suspect that however, it does seem to make sense that if he employs the workers that made it he might not have had to pay for it. Regardless, I can still assume that the Whitehead homestead was well decorated and adorned with many pieces of the arts and crafts era. With the overwhelming of hand craftsmanship and the imposed housekeeping agendas, arts and crafts rooms were very well kept. The linen press typically resided in the bedroom, for its function was to serve as what we would call an armoire or cabinet. They provided storage for clothing and any other household linens. For this reason, it was convenient for residents of the household to position it in their bedrooms.
Similarly, Nichols House canopy bed was also placed in the bedroom of a household. Although the items are totally different, not only in looks but, in their purposes. They both were required to carry out their functions in the bedroom space of an interior.
On the other hand, the penguin donkey bookcase shares a completely opposite relation ship with the Linen Press. Obviously they fulfill the same requirement for storage needs like each other, but how they complete this task is opposite. The bookcase was kept more commonly in reading of living rooms. It resided in these more public rooms so what is was storing could be shared, unlike that of a linen press where items where kept private.