Wednesday, September 15, 2010

09.16.10 : Idea Entry : Ball and Claw Foot

Ball and Claw on a Chippendale Mahogany Desk and Bookcase
Wilton House Museum

The ball-and-claw foot is thought to have originated in China as a dragon’s claw grasping a pearl.
Perhaps first adapted in Europe by the Dutch, it spread to England, before it was introduced to America about 1735. By the mid-18th century it had become firmly associated s the foot of American cabriole leg furniture in the Queen Anne and Chippendale, styles. The design lends itself to interpretation and there are variations associated with different parts of the 13 colonies. In America, a bird's claw was generally used, mostly the eagle's.

I become interested in this idea of incorporating animal feet into American furniture when I was cataloging animals at the Wilton House Museum. The idea that an animal claw would be places at the foot of a piece of furniture was a strange idea to me. I noticed it on decks, dressers, tables, chairs and stands. I wanted to learn the origin of it and why it was then translated to furniture.

Sources :

Heckscher, Morrison H., and Frances Gruber Safford. American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Random House [u.a., 2007. Print.

Kirk, John T. American Furniture: Understanding Styles, Construction, and Quality. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2000. Print.: H.N. Abrams, 2000. Print.

Landon, Eugene. "Carve a Ball-and-claw Foot." Fine Woodworking. Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. .

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