Join 2016 TCAS Exhibitor Jayne Thompson Antiques for a special look at the identity a not-so-common piece of furniture: the dresser.
Antique Dressers in Modern Interiors
What is a dresser? When I was growing up, my family used that term to describe a piece of bedroom furniture that stored clothes. It was squarish in proportion with drawers from top to bottom and raised on low feet. It looked like this:
After entering the antique furniture business almost 20 years ago, I soon discovered the trade refers to this piece as a chest of drawers. I also learned that a “dresser” is a long country piece that was made for the kitchen or dining room (these rooms were often one in the same in 17th and 18th Century homes). These pieces include the well-known Welsh dresser and rack:
…as well as low dressers:
There are also many dressers that began life with a rack which was later removed.
The term “dresser” indicates its function as a surface where the food was dressed for meals. These dressers were the precursor to the formal sideboard which came later and coincided with the appearance of grand formal dining rooms . As the scale of the dining rooms increased and the customs of the meal grew more elaborate, the size of the sideboard followed suit (particularly in terms of depth). In contrast, the country dresser retained slender proportions. It is long (often 6 feet or more) and shallow (typically less than two feet). These proportions allow the dresser to fill a wide variety of niches in modern interiors.
While many people still use dressers in their kitchens and dining rooms,
they have also found new life as sofa tables featured “consoles” in living rooms or foyers in narrow hallways, and as anchor pieces under art including abstract and contemporary artwork.
Of course, you can still find them in kitchens and dining rooms, even modern dining rooms:
As with all country furniture, dressers garner much of their charm from idiosyncrasies. There are oft-repeated forms within the genre, but also an infinite number of individual flourishes within that framework. It is fun to find evolutionary dead-ends such as this:
Also as with all country furniture, the importance of great patina, color, and timber cannot be underestimated. For instance, see this wonderful dresser employing a superb, highly figured ash as the medium:
As dealers, we take great pleasure in finding new and creative uses for 300 year old works of the decorative arts. It brings us a special kind of joy to see that the Welsh dresser has made a home for itself in 21st Century décor.
Jayne Thompson Antiques is a second generation business offering a wide variety of fine quality English and Continental furniture from the 16th through 19th Centuries with a special emphasis on service. They have participated in the Theta Antiques Show for over 20 years.
To learn more about Jayne Thompson Antiques, visit their website: http://www.jaynethompsonantiques.com/