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Attributed to John Henry Belter (American, b. Germany, 1804–1863)
Sofa, ca. 1850
Rosewood and rosewood laminate with modern velvet upholstery
54 × 93 1/2 × 40 in. (137.16 × 237.49 × 101.6 cm)
Bequest of Mary Jane Rayniak in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Rayniak M1987.16
Photo credit: Larry Sanders
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The German immigrant craftsman John Henry Belter became one of New York’s most fashionable furniture makers. His shop of over 40 woodworkers, also largely from Germany, utilized innovative methods of bending and laminating wood to supplement their highly skilled hand work. The shop turned out massive, curving forms that were strong, lightweight, and lavishly carved. Sensuous and luxurious, this sofa is an example of the Rococo Revival style that retained its popularity through the middle of the 19th century. This style, deemed most appropriate for the grandest homes and hotels, combined elements of Rococo design—naturalistic flowers and foliage, controlled asymmetry, and a little whimsy—with more muscular proportions and overall exuberance.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.