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Object Timeline

1967

  • We acquired this object.

2008

2016

2019

  • You found it!

Metamorphic library table-steps Metamorphic Library Table-steps, ca. 1795

This is a Metamorphic library table-steps. It is dated ca. 1795 and we acquired it in 1967. Its medium is mahogany, brass, felt. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This cleverly designed library table conceals a nearly six-foot ladder, whose steps may be put up or taken down in mere seconds. It was built after designs published in 1793 by the London cabinet maker Thomas Sheraton, who in turn was inspired by a piece made by Robert Campbell for the private library of Prince of Wales (later George IV of England). During the eighteenth century, pieces of metamorphic furniture were sometimes described adjectivally as being “harlequin”, after the transformative nature of the Commedia dell’arte character Harlequin, who was capable of transmuting himself into another character, an animal, or even an inanimate object.

This object was donated by Unknown. It is credited Gift of Anonymous Donor.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 82.3 x 104.5 x 59.6 cm (32 3/8 x 41 1/8 x 23 7/16 in.) H x W x D: 184.2 × 121.9 × 59.7 cm (6 ft. 1/2 in. × 48 in. × 23 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Metamorphic library table-steps Metamorphic Library Table-steps, ca. 1795; England; mahogany, brass, felt; H x W x D: 82.3 x 104.5 x 59.6 cm (32 3/8 x 41 1/8 x 23 7/16 in.) H x W x D: 184.2 × 121.9 × 59.7 cm (6 ft. 1/2 in. × 48 in. × 23 1/2 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor; 1967-45-28

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Ellen DeGeneres Selects.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18456983/ |title=Metamorphic library table-steps Metamorphic Library Table-steps, ca. 1795 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=17 June 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>