To Please Any Taste

Litchfield County Furniture and Furniture Makers, 1780-1830

Museum Purchase

Between 1780 and 1830 Litchfield County experienced a surge in industry, agriculture, and regional and international trade. Woodbury maintained a thriving agricultural economy, New Milford boasted a healthy mercantile trade, the iron industry flourished in Kent, Canaan, and Sharon, and Litchfield became the center of county politics, education, and national business dealings. The citizens of this region expected their homes, clothing, and furnishings to reflect their status and aspirations in this growing economy and new nation. Furniture makers responded to these needs creating pieces that both reflected the desires of the client and the regional aesthetics of the craftsman. This fusion of style and technique created a unique regional style of furniture in Litchfield County.

Chest of Drawers Litchfield, CT
ca. 1770-1800 Private Collection
On April 18, 2009 the Litchfield Historical Society reopened its award-winning exhibition, To Please Any Taste: Litchfield County Furniture and Furniture Makers, 1780-1830. In 2009 the Society featured ten new examples of Litchfield County furniture from private collectors and local antiques dealers. Many of these pieces have been in private collections for generations and have never been publically exhibited. The show continued its focus on identifying style, construction techniques, and regional attributes, but also interpreted the furniture as a reflection of the rapid economic and social changes in Litchfield County during the decades from 1780-1830.

Desk, Harwinton or Litchfield, CT ca. 1770-1800
This desk descended through the Phelps family of
North Colebrook, CT.
Litchfield Antiques, Kent and Yvonne Gilyard
The exhibition included over thirty examples of Litchfield County furniture. In addition to pieces from the Litchfield Historical Society’s collection, furniture from the Yale University Art Museum; Connecticut Historical Society; Harriet Beecher Stowe Center; Harold Cole Art & Antiques; Litchfield Antiques (Kent & Yvonne Gilyard); and other institutions and private lenders were showcased in the exhibition.

The exhibit was on display from April 18 through November 29, 2009. An exhibition catalog and CD database accompanied the show.

This exhibition is made possible by a generous grant
from The Connecticut Humanities Council