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Sewing Desk

A work made of cherry, birch, ash and maple.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of cherry, birch, ash and maple.




Artist unknown
American, 19th century
Canterbury or Enfield, New Hampshire

About this artwork

The Shakers, members of a Protestant sect who lived in celibate, agriculturally oriented communal cooperatives, are best known for their simple yet elegant furniture. By the mid-19th century, they gained a notable reputation for excellent craftsmanship, which enabled them to turn their cottage furniture industry into a major enterprise. The use of rectilinear lines, lack of ornamentation, and emphasis on function characterize simple and restrained Shaker furniture. This particular desk was intended to store sewing implements and provide a work surface for sewing endeavors. The replacement of the rear panel indicates that the desk may have been arranged back-to-back with an identical desk, a concept in keeping with the communal living and working environments central to the Shaker belief system.


On View, Gallery 173


Arts of the Americas




Sewing Desk


New Hampshire (Object made in)


c. 1860–1870


Cherry, birch, ash and maple


106.7 × 80 × 68.9 cm (42 × 31 1/2 × 27 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Mrs. James M. McMullan and Mrs. James D. Vail III through the Antiquarian Society

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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