Adventures on the prowl for early Vermont furniture

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BENNINGTON — Historian, writer and photographer William Hosley will share discoveries he made during four decades of sleuthing around small museums, private estates and estate auctions in search of examples of Vermont-made furniture. "Adventures on the Prowl for Early Vermont Furniture" will be presented on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Early Vermont Gallery at the Bennington Museum.

Beginning in the 1970s, Hosley conducted the first statewide survey of Vermont furniture. He's been turning over stones in search ever since.

Vermont cabinetmakers, operating amid abundant raw materials and liberated from the shadow of major cities, continue to provide convincing evidence of an emerging American artistic culture.

Vermont supplied its own needs for furnishings and housing from the time of first settlement well into the 19th century when railroads brought imported goods from distant markets. Using local materials and design to satisfy local tastes, Vermont cabinetmakers, chair makers and joiners produced furniture of distinctive quality.

This important chapter in the art history of early Vermont is the focal point of Early Vermont, Bennington Museum's most recent permanent gallery installation. The Early Vermont Gallery presents life in Vermont from the time when the earliest European settlers arrived in 1761 with only the bare necessities to the early 1800s when Vermont craftsmen achieved a level of sophistication rivaling Boston and New York.

Explored through stories and vignettes, the gallery showcases over 85 major pieces and smaller items from the museum's extensive historical collection of more than 30,000 objects. Housed in the former Decorative Arts Gallery, this 866-square-foot space includes beautiful pieces representing the sophistication achieved not long after Vermont was first settled. In addition, this important chapter in the art history of early Vermont and Vermont-made is kept alive today by the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers and several prominent Vermont-based furniture manufacturers.

Tickets for Hosley's talk, which includes admission to the Early Vermont Gallery, are $7 for members and $10 for non-members.

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