J. & J. Kohn, Vienna, Josef Kohn, Jacob Kohn Child's cradle (model 1573) c. 1895

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 504 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

This elaborate bentwood cradle was lined with thick cushions to create a soft, sheltered, egg-shaped bed for an infant. The sinuous and sensual design, with the elegant, curved forms of the cradle and the long vertical arm that supported draped netting, reflects the popular Art Nouveau style of the time. Such cradles could be found in stylish, bourgeois homes all over Europe.

Bentwood designs became ubiquitous as seating for cafés and gardens and later as elaborate, upholstered domestic furnishings. Inexpensive, durable, light, and ideal for export because components could be assembled after shipping, pieces such as J. & J. Kohn's cradle became perfect symbols of the new industrial age. The bentwood process had been developed by the German designer Michael Thonet in the mid-nineteenth century in order to make appealing functional furniture efficiently and economically. In 1867 the manufacturer J. & J. Kohn became Thonet's chief competitor, opening factories in several international locations.

Bentwood furniture was made by steaming lengths of wood and then bending them and placing them in metal molds to dry. The resulting standardized sections were assembled with hardware instead of the traditional hand-carved joints. The idea of standardized elements revolutionized the principles of furniture production.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 38.
Ebonized bent beechwood
80 1/4 x 56 1/4 x 25 7/16" (203.8 x 142.9 x 64.6 cm)
Gift of Barry Friedman
Object number
Architecture and Design

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].