Born in Kansas in 1890, Thomas Molesworth was raised in South Dakota and Montana, inspiring a love affair with the West from an early age. In 1908, he began studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Though enrolled as a painter, the Institute was a major force in the study and design of decorative arts, now responding to the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. Moleworth’s style combines the simple, high-quality workmanship and materials of Arts and Crafts construction with everyday design characteristics of Western American ranches and farms.
If your living room has a table with elk antler legs or a credenza with a carved silhouette of a cowboy, you might just have Thomas Molesworth in your house.
Thomas Molesworth and his Cody-based Shoshone Furniture Company created furniture and artwork in a distinctive design that became popular in dude ranches, rustic lodges, homes and other buildings. Known as “Western style” or sometimes “cowboy style,” the always-functional pieces incorporate aesthetic elements found in nature or reflective of the Western lifestyle, such as wood burls, large brass tacks, Native American weavings, cowboy and wildlife motifs, leather elements and vertical poles.
The style was popular for decades, and many other artists and furniture makers began creating their own versions of Western style furniture, sometimes creating competitive bad blood between artisans. Even with increasing competition, Thomas Molesworth’s authentic creations remained at the top of the pyramid until he retired and closed the doors of the Shoshone Furniture Company in 1958.
Sothebys is proud to present Thomas Molesworth: Designing the American West – Live Auction: 30 July 2020