Anonymous, 18th century. Design for a Wooden Bench, ca. 1700–1730. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959 [59.608.104(8)]
Design firms and workshops often had a portfolio of drawings and modelbooks at hand which functioned as a catalogue "avant la lettre" for customers to choose their preferred designs, or to help them make decisions when creating a custom-made design. This design for a wooden bench [59.608.104(8)] comes from the inventory of an early eighteenth-century French or Dutch cabinetmaker. From the execution of the drawings, it can be deduced that this was not a first-rate draftsman, but rather a craftsman who catered to the middle-class market. He did, however, closely follow the latest fashions, both in the types of objects he offered and the style in which they were executed. This design for a bench shows him fully versed in the vocabulary of the Regency style.
Anonymous, British, 19th century. Design for Three Hat and Umbrella Stands, ca. 1830–1840. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1938 (38.37.200)
The furniture-manufacturing firm Gillows of Lancaster and London has left behind a particularly extensive group of these presentation drawings from the workshop. Gillows produced furniture for the higher classes of society in Britain and its colonies, garnering a remarkably long, mostly prosperous history. Their workshop-presentation drawings show the range of designs produced by the firm, from chairs and sofas to dressing tables and hat-and-umbrella stands (38.37.200), as well as draperies and entire room arrangements. The pieces are executed in various period styles, from "contemporary" Empire and Biedermeier to Neo-Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo, which could be ordered according to taste and preference.