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Archive for Sunday, July 26, 1998

S GOTHIC BOOKCASE DAZZLES

July 26, 1998

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— How did an 18th-century cabinetmaker assemble a chest of drawers? How did the cabinetmaker apply exotic veneers like tortoise shell and satinwood? Who were the cabinetmaker's artistic allies?

``The Art and Mystery of the Cabinetmaker, 1700-1950'' answers those questions using 16 outstanding examples of furniture drawn primarily from the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The exhibition runs through Sept. 6 at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St.

Featured objects include an early 18th-century French commode veneered with tortoiseshell and engraved brass, a hidden treasure that has not been on view for several decades.

The exhibition also will introduce an important new acquisition: a massive, Gothic revival bookcase designed by Gustave Herter in 1853 in New York City for the first World's Fair held in the United States.

Visitors to the exhibition will see a wide range of furniture forms and styles, each of which says something about the basic practices of furniture making.

For example, a colonial American dressing table stripped of its top and drawers shows how the cabinetmaker assembled his furniture. In the next gallery, visitors will have a chance to make side-by-side comparisons of objects.

Finally, visitors may test their knowledge by taking a close look at a Philadelphia high chest from about 1770. Recent scientific analysis and careful observation raise questions about its history.

In conjunction with the exhibition, furniture conservator Michael Podmaniczky will give a free lecture, ``Craft and Conservation: A Conservator's Perspective on Period Cabinetmaking and Object Preservation,'' at 7 p.m. Friday at the museum.

Podmaniczky is head of the furniture conservation at the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, the country's premier collection of early American decorative arts located in Winterthur, Del.

The museum's hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

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