Nineteenth century fancy furniture made in New York was the embodiment of its name: a creative and imaginative flight of fancy. Fancy side chairs were popular for their decorative painted style, light construction, and rushed or caned seats. The shell motif has a varied history in America. In the 18th century, shell motifs were carved into furniture to identify the location and seaport where a particular piece was constructed. Baltimore, Boston, Newport, and New York City all had their own specific take on the shell. Specially selected painted works from our permanent collections illustrate this theme.