Details

Title

Sofa

Artist/Maker

John Henry Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863), designer and maker

Date

ca. 1855–1860

Medium

Laminated and carved rosewood, white pine, and ash with original appliqué designs on modern silk upholstery

Dimensions

51 1/2 x 91 3/4 x 38 1/2 inches

Credit

Virginia Carroll Crawford Collection

Accession #

1981.1000.61

On View

Currently not on view

Although the furniture industry was largely mechanized by the 1850s, one could still pay top dollar and purchase hand-carved furniture, such as this sofa made by the German-born New York cabinetmaker John Henry Belter. Belter needed the help of a steam press machine to achieve his deeply undulating curves and pierced carved edges. By laminating thin sheets of hardwood to form an expensive plywood—a process Belter patented in 1849—he was able to achieve the necessary strength to manipulate the shapes to his customers’ satisfaction.