Published: May 10, 2022
By Madelia Hickman Ring
NEWTOWN, CONN. – Martha Willoughby, whose name will be well-known to scholars, collectors, dealers and curators in the field of American furniture, has recently been tapped to take over the role of editor at the Chipstone Foundations’s American Furniture journal, which was created in 1993 by Luke Beckerdite, who has been its editor from the beginning.
The new role is well suited to Willoughby, whose scholarly contributions have embellished auction catalogs for Christie’s American Furniture department, where she has worked – as a specialist, head of department and, more recently, as a consultant – for more than 25 years. She will continue to be a consultant for Christie’s. Her qualifications for stepping into the editor’s chair also include an internship at the Wadsworth Atheneum, a year in the research department at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, an internship at the National Portrait Gallery, which was followed by a master’s degree from Winterthur and an assistant curatorial position at the Museum of the City of New York in 1994. More recent publications include an article on Job Townsend Jr that was published in 1999 in American Furniture, and as a contributor to a book on American brass dial clocks written in 2009 by Frank L. Hohmann III.
With the 2021/2022 issues of American Furniture – combined due to Covid-19 – well underway, Willoughby has already begun editing articles for the 2023 issue. Beckerdite will assist in the transition until the 2023 issue goes to bed, the date of which has yet to be determined. She will take the lead for the 2024 issue though she said Beckerdite will continue to assist in an advisory role for a year or two.
“Luke sets a very high standard. I want to keep that,” Willoughby said by phone when we asked her what her first priorities are. “People have a lot of different concerns than they did when American Furniture started 30 years ago,” noting she hopes to eventually cover topics – including the role of women and people of color in the furniture trade – that have not been previously explored.
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