Industrialization, the advent of electricity, and the closing of the frontier provoked a national identity crisis at the end of the 19th century. Nostalgia for the simpler America of the Founding Fathers led to a movement known as the Colonial Revival. This Windsor-style chair, which is made from old flax wheels, typifies the desire to link America’s past to its future. Although it was displayed in a modern parlor room, it hearkened back to the nation’s Puritan and agricultural roots. At the same time, the inscription “They toil not / Neither do they spin” (Matthew 6:28) on the chest rail refers to God’s care for his chosen people and reflects the optimism Americans felt for the role their nation would play in the 20th century.
The Flynt Center of Early New England Life at Historic Deerfield, Old Main St., Deerfield, MA. 413-775-7214; www.historic-deerfield.org