Furniture, Lighting, & Textiles

The furniture in the collections range from the 16th to the 20th century and include examples of British, American, and Continental origin. Among the highlights are an eighteenth-century Philadelphia high chest, an elaborate French orbital clock by Jean Baptiste Baillon, and a massive sixteenth-century refectory table. Although many pieces are associated with known makers, this is an area in the collections that requires further research.

The period sconces and chandeliers that illuminate the Rosenbach were conserved in 2002-2003 during the museum’s restoration and expansion project. These fixtures range in period from the early 19th to the early 20th century. They originally provided light from candles, gas, and electricity, and are fashioned of crystal and a variety of plated and alloyed metals. Portable lighting devices are also represented in the collections, from Argand lamps to a ruby glass candelabra, to candlesticks in a range of media.

The textiles in the collection include Rosenbach family table linens–most dating to the 19th century-which are changed regularly along with place settings in the museum’s dining room. Tapestries; needlework that appears in the form of pillows, furniture upholstery, and screens; as well as clothing that is contained, for the most part, in the Marianne Moore collection, are also included in this medium.

Collection Highlights

Desk and bookcase

Chalk inscriptions on the back of the bookcase portion of this Philadelphia-made desk and bookcase provides a snapshot of its manufacture: "Made in 1815/Making 2/Stuf 4.87/Lock & hinges 1.75/Handles .25/ 2/ & 3 $4.87/Repaird 1831." The desk was made for a woman, Rachel Gratz Moses, and descended to her son…

Textile Panel

Author, artist, manufacturer, political activist, and more, William Morris preferred to describe his profession as “designer.”  Reacting against the Industrial Revolution’s proliferation of ugly, inferior goods and, worse, its dehumanization of work, Morris believed the purpose of design was “to give people pleasure in the things they must perforce use [and]…

Two Yellin Chandeliers

Two Yellin wrought-iron chandeliers. Each features bulb fixtures alternating with fantastic animal heads with rings in their mouths.

Related Posts

At table with the Rosenbach brothers

Dealers and collectors in rare and lovely things, the founding brothers of the Rosenbach had a profound connection to their Jewish heritage—reflected particularly in the collecting and scholarly pursuits of the younger brother, Dr. Abraham Rosenbach. Dr. Rosenbach was president of the New York Jewish Historical Society from 1921 to 1948, and wrote a bibliography …

A Souvenir of World War I

This small French flag is a nearly 100-year-old souvenir of the visit of an important World War I figure to Philadelphia. According to its envelope, this is a “Flag thrown from Marshal Joffre’s automobile while visiting Phila. Pa- May 9-1917.” Joseph Jacques Joffre had been commander of the French army during the Battle of the …

Cheers for Chairs II

Following up on last week’s post on our cockfighting chair, I thought I’d highlight another interesting set of chairs in our collection in anticipation of  next Thursday’s conversation on the history of the chair with Witold Rybczynski. If you’ve been on a Rosenbach house tour, you’ve seen these English mahogany chairs around the dining room …

Cheers for Chairs

In two weeks, on September 22, our “In Conversation with the Rosenbach” series will feature a conversation on the history of the chair with architectural writer Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair, A Natural History. There are more than 60 chairs in the Rosenbach’s decorative arts collection, but …

Graduation Gear

We have just passed through college graduation season, with its new graduates roaming the streets in caps and gowns. The Rosenbach actually has a fair amount of academic dress represented in our collections owing to degrees accumulated by our founder A.S.W. Rosenbach, and even more by Marianne Moore, so I thought I’d post a few.  …

William Morris

We have posted before about William Morris’s Kelmscott Press, which strove to elevate the craft of hand-printing in the late 19th-century. but the Rosenbach also has an interesting example of Morris’s work in another arena: textile design. William Morris (1834-1896) wore many hats in his life: poet, novelist, artist, printer, manufacturer, political activist, and more. …