Early Settlement and Sophistication
Prosperous American colonists in the late 17th and early 18th centuries enjoyed a level of material comfort and aesthetic style comparable to that of their counterparts abroad. Colonial artisans, many of whom were émigrés trained abroad, copied European styles of furniture, silver, and other useful objects. Luxury items that were not manufactured in the colonies, such as brass candlesticks, silk textiles, and porcelains, were imported from Europe.
American decorative arts of this period often reflect designs from England and the Netherlands because most early settlers had emigrated from these countries. The massive proportions and architectural paneling of the cupboard in the center of this room recall 17th-century English furniture inspired by late Renaissance designs from the Netherlands. In contrast, the lighter, more curvilinear design of the dressing table, from early 18th-century Boston, exemplifies the American interpretation of the style referred to as William and Mary, after the monarchs who had ascended the throne of England in 1689.