Sunday, April 8, 2012

Callahan, Ashley. Georgia Bellflowers: the Furniture of Henry Eugene Thomas.

Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia. 2011. c107p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780915977772. $16.00

Accompanying an exhibition by the same name, held at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, GA until the 15th April 2012, this small (8 ¼ X 6 ¼ ins.), generously- illustrated (more than 40 black- and- white and color illustrations), attractive catalog presents the life and work of Henry Eugene Thomas (1883-1965), a Georgia antiques dealer and furniture maker, who rose to prominence during the early decades of the twentieth century, first as an Athens’s antiques dealer or picker and then as a cabinetmaker, restoring and reproducing antiques from the Piedmont area of Georgia for local and nonlocal customers. Known to have shaped the collecting and understanding of the Georgia decorative arts, Thomas became a significant craftsman, who created a recognizable, regional, Colonial revival style from the 1920s through the 1950s. Featuring an essay by independent scholar and guest curator, Callahan, as well as an unpublished manuscript about the artist, written by his only son Jack Thomas, this book, like the exhibition, is the first to highlight the career and works of Henry Eugene Thomas. Among many topics, Callahan sets forth previously unpublished information about the history of the study of the decorative arts in the Southeast and Henry Eugene Thomas’s roles in the Colonial Revival in the Southeast. While showcasing the artist’s works, not limited to his breakfronts, chests, clocks, desks, end tables, cabinets, coffee tables, and more, she seeks to elucidate Thomas’s approach to restoring and reproducing the antiques that he discovered and made as well as contextualize his creations within their aesthetic, social, and cultural milieus. Of interest to students, collectors, museum professionals, scholars, and others, this book also includes endnotes and a Checklist of works and selected ephemera featured in the exhibition. Nicely- presented and well- written, it is highly recommended for large public, academic, and special libraries as well as for Southeastern library collections. Review copy. Availability: