Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America

Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America

by Thomas Andrew Denenberg


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Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America by Thomas Andrew Denenberg

For devotees of American decorative arts, Wallace Nutting (1861-1941) needs little introduction. A Congregational minister turned author, photographer, and wildly successful entrepreneur, Nutting was the principal authority on early American furniture for much of the twentieth century and played an important role in the development of a colonial revival aesthetic and ideology. He collected, reproduced, and marketed colonial artifacts, and the goods and experiences he offered his middle-class customers promoted his idealized notion of a time and place that he called "Old America." This handsomely illustrated book is the first full-length study of Nutting's life and work. Thomas Andrew Denenberg describes Nutting's interrelated endeavors, from his varied writings (including Furniture of the Pilgrim Century and the monumental three-volume Furniture Treasury) to his photography (both amateur and professional), chain of restored museum houses, renowned collection of seventeenth-century furniture, reproduction colonial furniture business, and advertising program. By charting Nutting's activities, Denenberg creates a picture of an influential cultural critic who deftly combined myth and materialism, contributing significantly to both the growth of consumerism and the development of an antimodern world-view in the twentieth-century United States. Thomas Andrew Denenberg is the Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300096835
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 03/20/2003
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Consumed by the Past: Wallace Nutting and The Invention of Old America1
Chapter 2Spinsters, Widows, and a Minister: Amateur Photography in a Professional World23
Chapter 3Middle-Class Art, or, The Expansible Old America45
Chapter 4Picture Houses, Period Rooms, and Print: Wallace Nutting and the Place of History87
Chapter 5Pilgrim Furniture of the Modern Century123
Chapter 6Beauty, Construction, and Style: Old America on Madison Avenue153
Chapter 7Contemporary Ancestors: Berea College and the Past Progressive171
Chapter 8Waiting for the Auto to Pass: Wallace Nutting and the Persistence of Sentiment185
Selected Bibliography217

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