Samuel Johnson Totara Chiffonier

Maker and role
Maker: Samuel Johnson (b.1835, d.1906)
Production date
Circa 1870
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Object Detail

Totara chiffonier made by Nelson cabinet maker Samuel Johnson (1835-1906). Johnson made furniture in Nelson from 1863 - 1885.
Object type
Media/materials description
Media and materials
furniture; sideboards; settlers; wood; cabinets; Nelson; cabinetry; creators; cupboards; scrollwork; burr; locks; hinges; backboards; plinths; timber; totara; chiffonier; Samuel Johnson
Maker biography
Samuel Johnson (1835 - 1906)

Johnson trained in Northampton before visiting New Zealand in 1857. He joined his extended family permanently in 1863 when he returned to settle in Nelson with his wife. Johnson’s workshop was located next to his sister’s home, built by their father, in Collingwood Street. Later he worked in Rutherford St. The depression of the 1880’s bought him to near bankruptcy but he was making furniture up until 1885.

Johnson designs generally used the gentler more rounded lines and forms of the 1840’s rather than the stricter regency style. Johnson trained in a larger firm where he would not have had design responsibility. This piece reflects the change in circumstances that settler craftspeople found. They had to take total responsibility for all aspects of design and production. This piece would have been aimed at a market without sophisticated design knowledge but was soundly made from high quality materials.
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