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6 beds that made history

To most of us, our bed is simply a place for rest and relaxation at the end of a long day. But, as Richard Jackson reveals, beds have featured in some of the most fascinating stories through time...

Published: November 11, 2014 at 10:02 am
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John & Yoko’s protest bed

The 'bed-in' was John Lennon and Yoko Ono's famous protest of the Vietnam War. Inspired by non-violent 'sit-in' protests, the two spent a week in bed in both Amsterdam and Montreal in 1969.


The events were filmed and later turned into a documentary movie titled Bed Peace. The Amsterdam bed-in coincided with the couple's honeymoon, and their overall popularity and media exposure ensured that their message reached a wide audience.


Elvis Presley’s hamburger bed

This iconic, heavy velvet bed is considered a piece of rock and roll memorabilia.

First designed for Elvis Presley, it hosts a number of modern gadgets including a television and stereo build into the headboard. Christened the 'hamburger bed' by Elvis's daughter, Lisa Marie, due to its general 'bun-like' appearance, the bed resided in the Country Music Hall of Fame until 2007. It was later sold on eBay for $50,000.


Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’

One messy bed was also a work of art, exhibited in the Tate Gallery by British artist Tracey Emin. Titled 'My Bed', the piece is categorized as 'confessional artwork', as it represents the artist’s bout with suicidal depression after a bad breakup.

The bed is displayed in a state of abject disarray; the sheets rumpled and stained, with numerous objects strewn on and around it, including condoms, old underwear and magazines.

The bed was eventually bought by the advertising mogul and art collector Charles Saatchi for £150,000. Emin's ex-boyfriend Billy Childish also stated that he had an old bed of hers in the shed that he would make available for £20,000.


The cradle of the King of Rome

This opulent crib was the bed of Napoleon's only heir, Napoleon II, king of Rome.

The magnificent piece was a collaboration between a number of prominent 19th-century artisans including the sculptor Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the silversmith Charles Nicolas Odiot, and the painter Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. It was given as a gift to Napoleon II's mother, Empress Marie Louise.

The famous cot is visible in the background of one of the painter Francois Gerard's portraits of the pair. The young emperor also received a 101 cannon salute on the day of his birth.


Vincent Van Gogh's 'bedroom in Arles'

This bed could be considered rather boring compared to the others on our list, were it not for the fact that Vincent Van Gogh slept in it. In fact, he liked the bed so much that it featured in three of the artist’s paintings.

His bedroom at the Yellow House in Arles, France, was the subject of many of Van Gogh's paintings between 1888 and 1889, including 'Van Gogh's Chair', another of the artist’s iconic pieces. The striking colours, bold brushwork and unusual perspective of 'Bedroom in Arles' give us unparalleled insight into Van Gogh's life and work.


The Great Bed of Ware

This colossal oak four poster bed constructed by the carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke in 1580 was originally housed in the White Hart Inn in Ware, England.

Measuring 10 by 11 ft, the gigantic bed could reputedly sleep 15 people comfortably. Many of those who used the bed carved their names into the posts, and it was even mentioned in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In the 19th century, the bed was moved to another Ware inn – the Saracen's Head – and following a brief stint in a pleasure garden in the 1920s, it is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


This article was written by Richard Jackson of the Wooden Furniture Store.


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