September 7th, 2008
A bed can contain the whole life story. From the welcoming of love or death or birth, to everything in betweeen. The bed functions as an object of utility as a place to work to play to rest. In thinking about where I could sleep in my Imaginary Home, I am torn between a massive bedstead, and something perhaps simpler and more modern–an upholstered day bed. I have a warm regard for daybeds. Idling away hours, paging through my dictionary, staring out my window, sipping a milky cup of coffee, what could be better–if only a servant to bring food. As a former client Miss. M said of her own idling and work habits in bed, “If I can be horizontal, I am.”
A bedstead of course allows for curtains where as a daybed does not. As an object of the imagination, I have always loved the romance and secrecy of a curtained bed. They further enhance a beds general suggestion of safety, warmth, comfort, & separation–one could imagine embowered in cloth, in an other world of aerial dreams.
The answer maybe an alcove bed. It typically has the 3 sides of the daybed and they often have curtains. A notable alcove bed is Mr. J’s hybrid-alcove at Monticello. (Some might think having access to both sides novel but he like many politicos, wanted to have his cake and eat it too).
I love the tradition of the alcove bed as it is slid into the wall and is almost hid away. Mine, I think must have windows–at the foot and at the side–and cubbies within arms length at the peripheral.
1. “Room from the Hart House,” 1680, Ipswich, Massachusetts.
2. TJ’s Alcove Bed. c. 1774
3. “Birth of the Virgin” Vittore Carpaccio, 1504–8, Oil on canvas.