The most sumptuous moment in America’s Gilded Age is revealed through the work of some of its most noted design firms in Artistic Furniture of the Gilded Age, which opened December 15 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The centerpiece of the three-part exhibition is the opulent Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room from the New York City house commissioned by art collector and philanthropist Arabella Worsham (later Huntington; ca. 1850–1924). A complete work of art, with its elaborate woodwork and decorations, it is a rare surviving commission by the New York-based cabinetmaker and interior decorator George A. Schastey (1839–1894), who is the subject of the second part of the exhibition.
Although little-known today, Schastey operated a large and successful decorating firm in the late 19th century, catering to some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals. His work and important role is highlighted by loans from public and private collections, some of them newly attributed to him and never before on public view. Furniture by some of his contemporaries also is included.
An adjoining gallery displays works by Schastey’s best-known competitor, Herter Brothers, which were created for the firm’s most important commission, the William H. Vanderbilt House. In total, the exhibition includes more than three dozen examples of furniture from America’s Gilded Age. Visitors will gain new insights into the luxurious and artistic interiors found in New York’s wealthiest households in the late 19th century.
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