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American Dining Room Furniture





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Thorne Rooms at KMA, Federal Dining Room (detail)




Thorne Rooms at KMA, Federal Dining Room (detail)





Federal Dining Room, c. 1810

In 1748 the ruins of Pompeii were fully excavated, accelerating a classical revival in art and architecture. This room reflects America’s Federal Style Period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The hand painted wallpaper’s Greek and Roman ruins help characterize the style. Scottish born American furniture maker Duncan Phyfe was the principal designer of the Federal Style. After moving to New York City in 1792, Phyfe’s skills led to such a demand for his products that he eventually employed over 100 carvers and cabinetmakers to make furniture for America’s wealthy elite. He introduced factory practice to furniture making. All the furniture in this room is a copy of Duncan Phyfe design. The mantel is a replica of a design by Boston architect Charles Bullfinch.

The Knoxville Museum of Art’s Thorne Rooms are among America’s most well-known miniature diorama groups. The Thorne Rooms were developed in the 1930s and 40s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne, Chicago, IL, who loved dollhouses as a child. After extensive travels in Europe where she collected miniature furniture and accessories, Mrs. Thorne had over two dozen miniature rooms created by cabinetmakers from her own drawings. They were made in a scale of one inch to one foot. She painted and stained woodwork, papered walls, and made textiles for the rooms. The rooms were displayed in several World’s Fairs. In 1933–1934 they were displayed at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition. In 1939 they traveled to San Francisco’s Golden Gate International Exposition, and in 1940 they were displayed at the New York World’s Fair.

Later, Mrs. Thorne created 29 more rooms, copying Europe’s castles, museums, and historic homes. She commissioned architects to create historically accurate settings and had textiles and carpets made by the Needlework Guild of Chicago. The rooms, tracing English and French style 1500–1920, were exhibited in 1937 at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1942 Mrs. Thorne gave a third and final group of Thorne Rooms to the Art Institute. Those 37 rooms offered a view of American History, 1675–1940.

In 1962, IBM, which had purchased 29 rooms, gave nine of the original Thorne Rooms to Knoxville’s Dulin Gallery of Art, this museum’s predecessor. Our rooms contain many of the miniature objects Mrs. Thorne collected during her youth and on her travels. The Knoxville Museum of Art is one of five museums in the country to have a collection of Thorne Rooms.

The restoration of the Thorne Rooms has been made possible by the generous support of Sherri Lee, in honor of Mrs. McAfee Lee.












Back to Sonnenberg - Dining Room - Breakfast Bower




Back to Sonnenberg - Dining Room - Breakfast Bower





Mrs. Thompson's eclectic collecting style was reflected in the Dining Room. The furnishings included an Oriental screen, American antiques and reproduction of antique furniture. The room itself is built in the Colonial style. The fan shaped window above the mantle requires that the fireplace flue be diverted to avoid obscurring the view. The open air dining porch or "Breakfast Bower" is an extention of the Dining Room. The folding beveled-glass doors open fully onto the bower and allow accent to the space. The kitchen and bulters pantry are to the left of the room. Notice the vintage fashions which are on display. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historical Park is located on 151 Charlotte Street in Canandaigua, NY. (22)









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