Campaign furniture, designed to be folded up, packed, and carried on the march, has been used by traveling armies since the time of Julius Caesar, and even earlier. With the rise and expansion of the British Empire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as British gentlemen came to dominate the army, government, and commerce in colonies throughout the world, the finest British furniture makers produced for this new class of traveler some of the most stylish pieces of portable furniture ever made. Such renowned designers as Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton competed to devise ever more elegant and ingenious “knock-down” chairs, tables, desks, bookcases, sofas, and beds, all in the height of fashion. Thus British officers and civilian gentlemen traveling to India, Africa, North America, and the South Seas could order complete suites of furniture for genteel life abroad.
This groundbreaking book, the first ever devoted to this fascinating subject, describes and illustrates the remarkable furniture made for travel in the British Empire. It includes a history of British campaign furniture and of the social conditions that gave rise to a distinctive vision of gentlemanly life abroad, as well as discussions of pieces by type, with photographs showing them broken down for travel and fully assembled for use. Finally, a directory of makers of traveling furniture, the first ever compiled, has proven indispensable to collectors and scholars alike.
Praise for British Campaign Furniture
“Fascinating, erudite - and spiced with often comical excerpts from expatriates’ letters home - British Campaign Furniture is a delightful glimpse into one of design history’s oddest yet most compelling detours.” Mitchell Owens, Art & Auction
“Brawer’s book is a rare animal - a scholarly treastise that’s also fun to read and filled with astonishing before and after photographs to boot.” Patricia Dane Rogers, The Washington Post
“Fresh and fascinating...a well researched and beautifully presented study...particularly valuable.” Martin Levy, Furniture History Society Journal
“Fascinating, beautifully produced, and scholarly, British Campaign Furniture should prove the standard reference work on the subject for years to come...A comprehensive and meticulously researched book.” Michael Connors, Maine Antiques Digest