Electronic Thesis/Dissertation


A Room with a Viewpoint: Katharine Prentis Murphy and the Colonial Revival in the Age of Modernism, 1950-1960 Open Access

During the 1950s Katharine Prentis Murphy (1882-1967) used authentic colonial era furnishings to create a series of complex, multi-layered museum and historic house installations that highlighted the aesthetic qualities of American antiques and placed her at the forefront of the post World War II Colonial Revival movement. Murphy placed objects from the 1750s into highly patterned and brightly colored room settings, which was an unorthodox design strategy for the time but one that incorporated popular trends and tastes of the 1950s. Her post war room settings appealed to consumers who were not ready to give up traditional furniture, or the conventional values and virtues associated with it, but who also wanted modern comfort and up-to-date styling. Murphy's displays revealed her own point of view as a designer and demonstrated how the resilient Colonial Revival movement evolved and expanded in the context of 1950s modernism.

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