ROBERT F. TRENT
1110 Grinnell Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19803
302 478 5428
1994 - Present
Independent Museum Consultant, Historical Upholsterer, Wilmington, Delaware
Providing expertise and execution of historical upholstery for museums, private collectors, auction houses, and dealers; expertise and brokering of fine and decorative arts; scholarly lectures; principal furniture lecturer at Sotheby’s Educational Studies; consulting to museums.
Curator of Furniture, The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware
Managed the furniture collection. Acquired over 100 objects. Planned and wrote story lines for major installations in new exhibition wing. Taught connoisseurship course in furniture in the Winterthur Program for Early American Culture, affiliated with the University of Delaware. Contributor to Winterthur Magazine and to first changing exhibition, “Eye for Excellence.”
Curator of Collections, The Connecticut Historica Society, Hartford, Connecticut
Undertook reorganization and reinstallation of eight major galleries, including three permanent galleries. Renovation to storage areas. Mounted over 20 changing exhibitions, including “New London County Joined Chairs 1720-1790.” Planned and executed major campaign of deaccessioning inappropriate collections. Oversaw registrar, curatorial assistant.
Research Associate, Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Coordinated and made principal contributions to landmark exhibition and 504-object catalogue, “New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century.” Acquired over 40 objects for the permanent collection.
Guest Curator, New Haven Colony Historical Society, New Haven, Connecticut
Primary responsibility for exhibition and catalogue, “Hearts & Crowns -- Folk Chairs of the Connecticut Coast.”
NEH Fellow, Department of American Art, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Consultant at Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on cataloguing collection and conservation.
Consultant at Reynolda House, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on historic reconstruction of 1917 upholstery treatments of thirty pieces of furniture, based on documentation and period photographs.
Consultant at the Trent House, Trenton, New Jersey, on upholstery and on furnishings plan.
Consultant at the Ipswich Historical Society, Ipswich, Massachusetts, on reinterpreting the Whipple House.
Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
One of two principal consultants providing concepts and texts for reinstallation of American collections. Co-curator of the exhibition “Puritan Classicism: Seventeenth-Century Cupboards of Essex County, Massachusetts.”
Sotheby’s, New York
Structuring and principal furniture lectures in American Arts course in Sotheby’s Educational Studies. Object entries for sales catalogues.
Christie’s, New York
Object entries for sales catalogues.
“The Crucible,” set design in Ipswich, Massachusetts
Provided historical background and control for reconstructed seventeenth-century village and furnishings for movie sets.
United States Senate, Washington, D. C.
Examined collections and furnished report on future goals for projected Capitol Preservation Committee chaired by Walter Joseph Stewart, former Secretary of the Senate.
Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia
Examined furniture made by African-American cabinetmakers of the Mulberry Row shop and provided upholstery for eleven chairs purchased by Jefferson in Paris in the 1780s.
Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia
Provided comprehensive specifications for conserving the original upholstery of furniture used in the White House of the Confederacy 1861-1865.
Eddy Nicholson (Private Collector)
Provided acquisitions, conservation, design, and installation for a major collector. An auction catalogue documenting most of the acquisitions was published by Christie’s, New York, in January 1995. Some of the objects were sold directly to the Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Saugus, Massachusetts
Planned, wrote, and helped implement furnishings plan for Iron Master’s House, built in 1678.
Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
One-year consultation for acquisitions, resulting in five major purchases.
Ph. D. candidate, American Studies (ABD), Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
M. A., University of Delaware, Winterthur Program
Thesis: “The Joiners and Joinery of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1730”
B. A., Art History, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, Magna Cum Laude, PBK
“Boston Baroque Easy Chairs, 1705-1740,” Luke Beckerdite, ed., American Furniture 2012 (Milwaukee: Chipstone Foundation, 2012), forthcoming.
“Introduction,” Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee, Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to 17th-Century Joinery (Fort Mitchell KY: Lost Art Press, 2012), p. vii.
“Using Interior Woodwork To Identify Some Albany-Area Furniture,” Frontier Style. Culture at the Edge of Empire Mohawk Valley, NY 1700-1800, (Johnstown NY: Western Frontier Symposium, 2011), pp. 140-141.
Christie’s New York, “Important American Furniture, Folk Art & Decorative Arts,” September 28, 2011, Sale Number 2468, pp. 2-11, lots 1 and 3.
“A Connecticut Valley Clothes Press,” in Historic Deerfield, Volume 11 (Winter, 2010), pp. 18-22.
With Erik Gronning, “The Gaines Attributions and Baroque Seating in Nirtheastern New England,” in American Furniture 2010, pp. 140-193.
With Peter Follansbee, “Reassessing the London-Style Joinery and Turning of Secenteenth-Century Boston,” in American Furniture 2010, pp. 194-240.
With Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee, “Early American Shaved Post-And-Rung Chairs,” in American Furniture 2008, pp. 26-60.
With John D. Alexander, Jr., “American Board-Seated Turned Chairs,” in American Furniture 2007, pp. 83-109.
With Erik K. Gronning and Joshua W. Lane, “Dutch Joinery in 17th-Century Windsor, Connecticut,” in Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 35, No. 8 (August 2007), pp. 8D – 13D.
Review: Neil Kamil, Fortress of the Soul: Violence, Metaphysics, and Material Life in the Huguenots’ New World (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), in Luke Beckerdite, ed., American Furniture 2005, pp. 255-259.
“Two Important Doll-Sized Chairs Acquired by the Toy Museum,” Old Salem Luminary, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Spring 2005), p. 3.
with Harry Mack Truax II, “Vaulting Ambition: Philadelphia Gothic Revival Furniture and Other Decorative Arts 1835-1870,” Philadelphia Antiques Show, 2005, pp. 89-122.
with Alan Miller, Glenn Adamson, and Harry Mack Truax II, “High Craft Along The Mohawk: Early Albany Woodworking and the Glen-Sanders House in Scotia, New York,” American Furniture 2004, pp. 90-151.
“The European Origins of Eighteenth-Century New England Case Pieces” and “Connecticut River Valley Woodworking Dynasties With Chapin Connections,” in Thomas P. Kugelman and Alice K. Kugelman with Robert Lionetti, Connecticut Valley Furniture -- Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800 (Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 2005), pp. 419-442.
with David F. Wood, “The Earliest American Easy Chairs,” The Catalogue of Antiques & Fine Art (Autumn 2003), pp. 161-165.
with Michael Podmaniczky, “An Early Cupboard Fragment by the Harvard College Joinery Tradition,” American Furniture 2002, pp. 228-242.
with Peter Follansbee and Alan Miller, “First Flowers of the Wilderness: Cupboards, Chests of Drawers, and Tables of Northern Essex County, Massachusetts 1678-1692,” American Furniture 2001, pp. 1-64.
“New Insights on Early Rhode Island Furniture,” American Furniture 1999, pp. 209-223.
with Peter Follansbee, “The Abraham and Hannah Perkins Important Pilgrim Century tulip poplar-inlaid and part-ebonized oak court cupboard, initialled A. P. H., Newbury, Massachusetts, dated 1683,” Sotheby’s, Fine Americana, New York, June 17, 1999, Sale 7329, lot 187, pp. 80-84.
“Introduction,” Rural New England Furniture: People, Place, and Production (Boston: Boston University and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1998), pp. 7-12.
with Peter Follansbee, “Repairs versus Deception in Essex County Cupboards, 1830-1890,” Rural New England Furniture: People, Place, and Production (Boston: Boston University and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1998), pp. 13-28.
with Karin Goldstein, “Notes about New ‘Tinkham’ Chairs,” American Furniture 1998, pp. 215-237.
“Philadelphia Gothic Niche Pilasters and a French Secretary by Crawford Riddell,” Furniture History (1997), pp. 253-258.
Contributor, The Concord Museum: Decorative Arts from a New England Collection (Concord MA: Concord Museum, 1997).
with Denise Magnani, “An Arranged Marriage,” in Denise Magnani, editor, The Winterthur Garden -- Henry Francis du Pont’s Romance with the Land (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995), pp. 109-128.
with Harry Mack Truax II, “A Mid-Atlantic Gothic Armchair and its English Source,” Peabody Essex Museum Antiques Show (1995), pp. 21-24.
Review: Nancy Goyne Evans, American Windsor Chairs, in Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 24, No. 5 (May 1996), p. 1-E.
Review: Jane Nylander, Our Own Snug Fireside -- Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860, in William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (January 1994), pp. 151-152.
Contributor, Portsmouth Furniture -- Masterworks from the New Hampshire Seacoast (Boston: Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, 1993).
“A Channel Islands Parallel for the Early Eighteenth-Century Connecticut Chests Attributed to Charles Guillam,” Studies in the Decorative Arts, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Fall 1994), pp. 75-91.
“Furniture,” in Eye For Excellence -- Masterworks from Winterthur (Winterthur DE: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 1994), pp. 65-86.
“Foreword,” in William H. Guthman, Drums A’beating, Trumpets Sounding -- Artistically Carved Powder Horns in the Provincial Manner 1746-1781 (Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1993), pp. 9-11.
“Mid-Atlantic Easy Chairs, 1770-1820: Old Questions and New Evidence,” American Furniture 1993, pp. 201-212.
with Mark Anderson, “A Catalogue of American Easy Chairs,” American Furniture 1993, pp. 213-234.
“The Seventeenth Century” and “The William and Mary Style,” in American Furniture with Related Decorative Arts 1660-1830 (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1991), pp. 23-104.
“Native Americana,” Winterthur Magazine, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Winter 1991-1992), pp. 3 and 19.
“Jewish Traditions Reflected in the Collection,” Winterthur Magazine, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Fall 1991), p. 7.
“Illuminating the African-American Experience at Winterthur,” Winterthur Magazine, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Spring 1991), p. 8.
“The Wendell Couch,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 19, No. 2 (February 1991), pp. 34D-37D.
“Towards the Future of Historical Upholstery Technique in
America,” Upholstery Consrvation (East Kingston NH: American Conservation Consortium, 1990), pp. 149-159.
“The Board-Seated Turned Chairs Project,” Regional Furniture, Vol. 4 (1990), pp. 42-48.
“The Colchester School of Cabinetmaking, 1750-1800,” and “The Symonds Shops of Essex County, Massachusetts,” in Francis J. Puig and Michael Conforti, eds., The American Craftsman and the European Tradition 1620-1820 (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1989), pp. 23-41 and 112-135.
“Matching Inventory Terms and Period Furnishings,” in Peter Benes, ed., Early American Probate Inventories (Boston: Boston University and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1989), pp. 17-22.
“Wet and Dry: A Preview of the Great Turned Chairs Round-Up,” Western Reserve Arts Show (1988), pp. 56-59.
Contributor, William H. Mulligan, Jr., ed., A Historical Dictionary of American Industrial Language (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988).
Review: Lonn Taylor and Dessa Bokides, New Mexican Furniture, 1600-1940: The Origins, Survival, and Revival of Furniture Making in the Hispanic Southwest, in Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 23, Nos. 2/3 (Summer/Autumn 1988), pp. 183-185.
“More on Sofas,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 16, No. 9 (September 1988), pp. 10B-14B.
with Peter Arkell, “The Lawton Cupboard: A Unique Masterpiece of Early Boston Joinery and Turning,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 16, No. 3 (March 1988), pp. 1C-4C.
Review: Judd Caplovich, Blizzard! -- The Great Storm of ‘88, in Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 16, No. 3 (March 1988), p. 28D.
with Richard C. Cote, “President Jefferson Davis’s Upholstered Furniture,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 16, No. 2 (February 1988), pp. 1C-5C.
with Andrew Passeri, “More on Easy Chairs,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 15, No. 12 (December 1987), pp. 10C-13C.
“Connecticut Plain High-Style Furniture of the 18th Century,” Regional Furniture, Vol. 1 (1987), pp. 79-85.
“17th-Century Upholstery in Massachusetts,” in Edward S. Cooke, Jr., ed., Upholstery in America & Europe from the Seventeenth Century to World War I (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1987), pp. 39-50.
with Andrew Passeri, “The Wheelwright nd Maerklein Inventories and the History of the Upholstery Trade in America, 1750-1890,” Old-Time New England, Vol. 72 (1987), pp. 312-354.
with Peter Arkell, “A New American Bureau-Table,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 14, No. 10 (0ctober 1986), pp. 34C-37C.
with Andrew Passeri, “A New Model Army of Cromwellian Chairs,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 14, No. 9 (September 1986), pp. 10C-16C.
with Joseph Lionetti, “New Information About Chapin Chairs,” Antiques, Vol. 139, No. 5 (May 1986), pp. 1082-1095.
Review: Sharon Darling, Chicago Furniture, in Design Book Review (Spring 1986), p. 75.
with Nancy Lee Nelson, “New London County Joined Chairs 1720-1790,” The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Fall 1985), pp. 1-95.
“The Chest of Drawers in America, 1635-1730 A Postscript,” Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 1985), pp. 31-48.
Review: Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque, American Furniture at Chipstone, in The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Winter 1984), pp. 54-55.
“The Spencer Chairs and Regional Chairmaking in the Connecticut River Valley, 1639-1830,” The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Fall 1984), pp. 15-27.
“The Charter Oak Artifacts,” The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Summer 1984), pp. 125-139.
“The New American Galleries at the Wadsworth Atheneum,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 12, No. 11 (November 1984), pp. 1B-4B.
Review: Amelia F. Miller, Connecticut River Valley Doorways: An Eighteenth-Century Flowering, in The Decorative Arts Society Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 4 and Vol. 10, No. 1 (March 1984), pp. 12-13.
“Connecticut Furniture,” House & Garden, Vol. 156, No. 9 (September 1984), pp. 102-119.
Review: John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830, in New England Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2 (June 1983), pp. 304-307.
Review: Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture, The British Tradition: A History of Early Furniture in the British Isles and New England, in Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 18, Nos. 2-3 (Summer/Autumn 1983), pp. 215-217.
“Re-Roasting An Old Chestnut, Or Can We Place This Thing At Last?”, The Delaware Antique Show Catalogue (1983), pp. 49-53.
“The Waldo Chair: A Monument of Early Connecticut Joinery,” The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Fall 1983), pp. 175-188.
with Andrew Passeri, “The Regulator’s Art: Early American Upholstery 1660-1830.” Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1983.
Editor, “The Devil Came Upon Me Like a Lyon,” The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Summer 1983), pp. 115-120.
with Andrew Passeri, “Some Amazing Washington Chairs! Or, White-and-Gold Paint anf the Square Stitched Edge,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 11, No. 4 (May 1983), pp. 1C-3C.
with Andrew Passeri, “Two New England Queen Anne Easy Chairs with Original Upholstery,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 11, No. 4 (April 1983), pp. 26A-28A.
“Early New England Joinery,” in Mary Jean Madigan and Susan Colgan, eds., Early American Furniture From Settlement to City (New York: Billboard Publications, 1983), pp. 10-17.
“New England Joinery and Turning Before 1700,” Art and Antiques, Vol. 6, No. 4 (July-August 1982), pp. 72-79.
Historic Furnishings Report -- Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Saugus, Massachusetts (Harpers Ferry WV: National Park Service, 1982).
with Jonathan L. Fairbanks, eds., New England Begins -- The Seventeenth Century , 3 vols. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982).
with Jonathan L. Fairbanks, “New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century,” Antiques, Vol. 121, No. 5 (May 1982), pp. 1126-1129.
“Style, Technology, and the Craftsman: Assessing Regionalism in Seventeenth-Century New England Joinery,” The Bay and the River: 1600-1900 (Boston: Boston University and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1982), pp. 10-28.
“The Symonds Joinery Shops of Salem and Their Works,” The Peabody Museum of Salem Antiques Show (1981), pp. 33-36.
with Anne Farnam and Margaret Burke Clunie, Furniture at the Essex Institute (Salem: Essex Institute, 1980).
Co-author, Houses of New England (Belmont MA: The Kirk Game Company, 1980).
The Oldest Wood Frame House Still Standing in North America (Belmont MA: The Kirk Game Company, 1980).
“The Marblehead Pews,” New England Meeting House and Church: 1630-1850 (Boston: Boston University and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 1979), pp. 101-111.
“Two Seventeenth Century Salem Upholstered Chairs,” Essex Institute Historical Collections, Vol. 116, No. 1 (January 1980),
with Andrew Passeri and Robert Walker, “The Franklin Easy Chair,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 7, No. 11 (December 1979), pp. 26B-29B.
“The Endicott Chair,” Maine Antique Digest, Vol. 7, No. 3 (March 1979), pp. 1B-2B.
“The Endicott Chairs,” Essex Institute Historical Collections, Vol. 114, No. 2 (April 1978), pp. 103-119.
“Sources for the Heart and Crown Chairs,” Antiques, Vol. 13, No. 2 (February 1978), pp. 410-418.
“A History for the Essex Institute’s Turkey Work Couch,” Essex Institute Historical Collections, Vol. 113, No. 1 (January 1977), pp. 29-37.
Hearts & Crowns -- Folk Chairs of the Connecticut Coast (New Haven CT: New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1977).
Editor, Pilgrim Century Furniture (Clinton NJ: Main Street Press, 1976).
Contributor, Charles F. Montgomery and Patricia E. Kane, eds., American Art: Towards Independence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976).
“The Joiners and Joinery of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1730,” in Ian M. G. Quimby, ed., Art of the Anglo-American Community in the Seventeenth Century (Charlottesville VA: The University Press of Virginia, 1975), pp. 123-148.
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