A Cultural History of Furniture

Bloomsbury Academic. (Cultural Histories). 6 vols. Apr. 2022. 1,824p. ed. by Christina M. Anderson. ISBN 9781472577894. $550. REF
This survey of furniture, which spans over 4,500 years, is part of Bloomsbury Academic’s extensive “Cultural Histories” series. Each volume, edited by an experienced team of scholars, helps ensure cohesion of the chapters written by 70 experts in the fields of art, furniture and interior decoration. Furniture does not always enjoy equal status like “fine” arts such as paintings and sculptures. This six-volume set attempts to provide greater inquiry into furniture as more than just an everyday accoutrement. An examination is provided of the changing cultural framework within which furniture was designed, produced, and used, from antiquity to the present day in the Western tradition. This approach highlights furniture as an artifact that can help further our understanding of cultures and particular time periods through the examination of factors that have shaped its form and functions. The book includes full-color photographs that illuminate intricate details, but it could have used more images to provide greater context. Each volume represents a particular time period that can be viewed on its own merits.
VERDICT This precisely researched and well-written reference work would benefit many art-focused libraries, but not necessarily casual collections.
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