Women’s Painted Furniture, 1790–1830

American Schoolgirl Art

Betsy Krieg Salm

In this long-awaited tribute to women’s painted furniture, author and artist Betsy Krieg Salm rediscovers a style of early American decorative art still largely unknown to curators, antique dealers, art historians, and the public. She documents the socioeconomic, cultural, and aesthetic history of the form, which includes such items as sewing and work boxes, face screens, and tables. Salm carefully chronicles the process itself, describing a selection of cabinetmakers, woods, varnishes, and paints, along with the specific tools and techniques used by women artists. Salm analyzes the styles, designs, and patterns of more than two hundred pieces. Treating these objects as documents of women’s daily lives, she shows the close relationship between painted furniture motifs and those of needlework and other decorative arts of the period. Thanks to her scholarship, this art form may now receive the recognition it deserves in the broader genre of American women’s art. Women’s Painted Furniture presents a comprehensive collection of images, most of which are not available elsewhere. Primary sources include recipes, patterns, genealogies of artisans, chemical analyses of antiques, instructions in methods and technique, and the original, mainly English, sources of artistic inspiration for painters and needle workers.

Cloth: $60
ISBN-13: 9781584658450
Pages: 252 | Size: 8.5 in. x 11 in.
Date Published: March 9, 2010


  • This quality volume from University Press of New England opens the door to the past art of girls and women applying a flourish of paint to boxes, tables, and other wooden objects. . . . the book carefully chronicles the painting process itself, including a selection of cabinetmakers and woods, varnishes and paints, and specific tools and techniques.

    Antique Trader
  • The newly released Women’s Painted Furniture 1790-1830, American Schoolgirl Art is a remarkable resource. This quality volume . . . opens the door to the past art of girls and women applying a flourish of paint to boxes, tables and other wooden objects. Research by author Betsy Krieg Salm presents fascinating American schoolgirl art in its entirety including its origination, materials and techniques. Further, there is personal history on the girls of long ago who created this enduring work.

    Antique Register
  • A beautifully illustrated, comprehensive study...This book is an absolute treasure and a beautiful inspirational example of the many application and possibilities of the Botanical Art and Illustration.

    Botanical Illustration
  • A true work of love for the material...a perfect balance of color photography, excerpts to back up statements, historical information as well as technical.

    Thistle Threads
  • With this work, the author has expanded the field of knowledge on American schoolgirl art and has created an excellent reference source on the subject . . . . Highly recommended.


About the Author

Mary (Betsy) Krieg Salm

Betsy Krieg Salm is a scholar, artisan, and teacher of the long-lost art of women’s painted furniture. She has exhibited her own work at more than sixty prestigious shows. She also lectures at museums and workshops, and teaches women’s painted furniture ornamentation for the Historical Society of Early American Decoration, needle worker guilds, colleges, and art institutions.

Other Recent Titles