GREENE ∑ NEWPORT
handcrafted Newport furniture
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Jeffrey Greene is a furnituremaker specializing in 18th-century American designs. His expertise is in creating historically accurate replicas of important original pieces from museums and private collections. Greene is best known for his work in the manner of Newport, Rhode Islandís legendary cabinetmakers, the Townsends and Goddards.
His pieces are crafted entirely by hand, employing all the methods of period cabinetmakers to guarantee authenticity of the design and structure. Greeneís furniture is made to order and is commissioned to stand among collections of original examples. He works alone to give each piece the full attention it requires and deserves.
Having had the opportunity to study original examples by the Townsends and Goddards in detail, Greene is able to work in the individual style of each of the family members. For instance, his Goddard corner chair has ball and claw feet carved in the exact style of John Goddard. His replica of a John Townsend highboy has not only Townsend's signature Newport shell and feet, but drawer dovetails cut in Townsend's manner as well. He clearly relishes the "art, trade, and mystery" of the craft.
Jeffrey Greene has thirty years experience as a furnituremaker and well over one thousand pieces to his credit. His work has appeared in Traditional Home, Architectural Digest, Decorating Magazine, Colonial Homes, Early American Life, Fine Woodworking, Home Furniture, In the 18th Century Style, and The Custom Furniture Source Book, among others.
Greene is the author of American Furniture of the 18th Century: History, Technique, Structure. The book documents the evolution of furniture design, tying its development to larger trends in art, architecture, and popular taste. It explores the whole fabric of artistry and craftsmanship by examining details of construction and furniture-making techniques of the period. American Furniture of the 18th Century is of interest to antiquarians, designers, woodworkers, and anyone with an interest in history.
Greene continues ongoing independent research on early Newport and the work of the Townsend and Goddard cabinetmaking families. He occasionally lectures on the subject and on the history of American furniture.
On 30 Years in the Craft
Next year marks Jeffrey Greeneís thirtieth year as a furnituremaker. While other makers have become manufacturers or teachers, he has remained an individual maker focused on creating exemplary furniture. He is always surprised by the number of furniture makers who donít actually make furniture.
While some makers subcontract parts, he personally handcrafts everything from beginning to end, from selecting the wood to the final polish.
Modern commerce brings with it the anonymity of distance and electronic communication. It is easy to offer an impressive image while the underlying substance is unclear and sometimes deceptive, but there can be no substitute for a substantial body of work that has been built over decades. On one website the "maker" is actually selling pieces be buys from someone else and on another machine-made kits are assembled and sold as handcrafted examples. As you browse this online portfolio, remember that the same two hands made every facet of each piece: period. This is the body of work at the level of craftsmanship Greene set out to create thirty years ago.
With a high level of craftsmanship must come a high level of authenticity. Working in historically important designs requires a familiarity with the individual methods and styles of the original makers. Without that insight the result can be an uninspired and unconvincing copy. Because of Greene's fluency in the Newport style, his pieces are sought by collectors to stand among important originals. A recent article in Art & Antiques pictured a Newport six-shell secretaire (right) and identified the maker as John Goddard; actually it was made by Jeffrey Greene 240 years later.
Most of Greene's work is built to order, but some pieces are in the Newport showroom and available for immediate purchase (see Currently Available) Customers' patience for pieces made to order will be rewarded by the satisfaction of owning a piece well worth waiting for and enjoying for generations.
Inspection Services for Originals
Because of Greeneís expertise in Newport furniture and the specific work of the individual Goddard and Townsend craftsmen, he is often asked to verify the originality of period pieces. With original antiques commanding unprecedented prices, owners and prospective buyers need an independent and unbiased opinion of a pieceís condition. Many fine originals have been tarnished by casually offered and unfounded opinions, while seriously compromised pieces have gone undetected.
As a prolific furniture maker, Greene views a piece from a unique perspective and with a first-hand ability to understand makersí marks. His examinations of originals have yielded surprising information, even on well-vetted examples. He has found both previously unnoticed signatures and replacements of major parts, both of which have significantly affected the value of the pieces. Greene has found two of the eight known Goddard family inscriptions in original pieces. For better or worse, he makes sure his conclusions are based on physical evidence, not wishful thinking.
Greene charges a flat fee for the examination and condition report, based solely on his time and travel. Please call for information.