French Bedstead

Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779-1819), New York, NY
Date: 1816-1819
Maker: Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779-1819), New York, NY
Dimensions: 45 1/2 H x 85 1/2 W x 60 D
Materials: Mahogany, burl elm veneer, ash with gilt and vert antique decoration (now black from change of color), eastern white pine, soft maple and hard maple, cherry, rosewood veneers, cut brass inlays, and ormolu mounts

Paper labels affixed to inside of headboard and footboard: Hre. Lannuier./Cabinet Maker from Paris/Kips is [sic] Wharehouse of/new fashion fourniture [sic]/Broad Street, No 60,/New-York./Hre. Lannuier/Ebéniste de Paris/Tient Fabrique & Magasin de Meubles/les plus à la Mode,/New-York.

Provenance: Originally owned by Stephen Van Rensselaer, IV, and Harriet Bayard, who married in 1817. This bed was once at the Van Rensselaer Manor House in Watervliet.
Credit: Gift of Constance Van Rensselaer Thayer Dexter, great granddaughter of Stephen Van Rensselaer, IV
Accession Number: 1951.61

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, bedsteads were traditionally among the most costly items in an American household. This example, made for Stephen Van Rensselaer IV and his wife Harriet Bayard Van Rensselaer, was among the richest and most expensive crafted in early-nineteenth-century America. The bed's maker, French émigré Charles-Honoré Lannuier, designed the opulent bed with carved dolphin feet and embellished it with exotic burl wood veneers inlaid with cut-brass patterns. Originally, costly fabric hangings (hung from a "crown" on the wall) would have completely enclosed the bed for privacy and warmth.