This bedstead, a particularly fine example of American Aesthetic Movement furniture, combines ambitious and extremely successful carving with spirited painted panels in a manner that relies on the accurate expression of nature. The proponents of the Aesthetic Movement, which flourished in England and America in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, looked to the natural world for inspiration in designing household furnishings such as furniture, ceramics, stained glass, metalwork, and textiles.
Benn Pitman, an Englishman who settled in Cincinnati in 1853 and taught decorative woodcarving courses primarily to wealthy young women, designed the bedstead. His second wife, Adelaide Nourse, a former student, carved the naturalistic motifs in low, medium, and high relief. Representations of hydrangeas, azaleas, and swallows in flight are set within a Gothic Revival frame. Elizabeth Nourse, Adelaide's twin sister, painted the panels on either side of the headboard with images of Night and Morning. Pitman exhibited the bedstead at the Cincinnati Industrial Exhibition of 1883.