Neoclassical Period Room, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Oak Hill Parlor Period Room, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1801; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Charles Amos Cummings Fund and anonymous gift.
Chest-on-chest; Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811), Salem, Massachusetts, 1806–09; Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts.
Side chair, Salem, Massachusetts; Carved by Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811), 1790–95; Mahogany, pine, ash, cherry, and possibly ebony; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts.
Console table, 1804–09; Attributed to Thomas and John Seymour (American b. England, 1771–1848 and 1738–1818), and possibly James Cogswell (American, 1780–1862), carving attributed to Thomas Wightman (American, active 1802–1820), 1804–09; Mahogany, satinwood veneer, unidentified burl veneer, rosewood veneer, ebony veneer, birch, eastern white pine, cherry, yellow poplar, brass; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Richard Edwards.
First installed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1928, the Oak Hill Rooms remain among the most historically significant Federal-style period rooms in any American museum. Built in 1800–1 in South Danvers (now Peabody), Massachusetts, Oak Hill is distinguished not just by its distinctive architecture but the fact that the rooms survive with most of their original furnishings, each object a masterpiece of the American neoclassical style.
The MFA owns three rooms from Oak Hill—the parlor, dining room, and bedroom—a testament to the wealth and fashionable tastes of the home’s original owners, Elizabeth Derby West and her husband Capt. Nathaniel West. Samuel McIntire (1757–1811), the renowned Salem, Massachusetts, craftsman and the architect of Oak Hill, was also the carver of many of the exquisite pieces of furniture on display.
Join curator Dennis Carr as he discusses the remarkable history of Oak Hill and its original furnishings and learn about the extensive conservation and research that went into the reinstallation of the rooms in the MFA’s new Art of the Americas Wing, which opened in 2010.
Dennis Carr is the Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture in Art of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is the co-curator of the MFA’s 53-gallery Art of the Americas Wing, and is a contributing author to the books A New World Imagined: Art of the Americas (2010); Painting a Map of Sixteenth-Century Mexico City: Land, Writing, and Native Rule (2012); Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia (2015); and Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830 (2016), which won the Charles F. Montgomery Book Prize and the Historic New England Book Prize. His recent exhibitions at the MFA include Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia (2015); Collecting Stories: Native American Art (2018); and Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu (2018). He holds graduate degrees from Yale University in the History of Art and from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture. Prior to joining the MFA in 2007, Carr served in the departments of American Paintings and Sculpture and American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery.