19th Anniversary

Antiques & Fine Art 131 2019 Previous Page: Box sofa attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854), (active 1794–1847), New York, about 1818–1820. Rosewood, and mahogany (feet), partially paint- grained rosewood and gilded (secondary woods: ash and black cherry), with ormolu mounts, die-stamped brass inlay inset with rosewood, brass line inlay, gilt-brass sabots and castors, and upholstery. H. 33¼, L. 82, D. 27¼ in. One of the handsomest forms of furniture produced in the United States during the 1820s, and perhaps into the 1830s, was the so-called “box sofa,” named either for its box-like form or for the fact that its seat is often upholstered over a separate frame made like a large slip seat. The prototype for these sofas may be a group of three designs for a “library sofa” reproduced by George Smith as plate 60 in his A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in the Most Approved and Elegant Taste (1808). The accompanying text notes that the “Three Designs for Sofas [are] intended for Libraries,” and suggests that “the frames…should be of mahogany.” Not surprisingly, all of the examples that have appeared have been made of mahogany—save for this example and an identical sofa in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago — both of which are executed in rosewood and may have been an original pair. All sofas in the group appear to be of New York origin, and the French ormolu mounts that ornament the front seat rail of the two rosewood sofas are of patterns that appear frequently on pieces associated with the shop of Duncan Phyfe. Monumental pier table with brass inlay attributed to Joseph Barry (1757–1838), Philadelphia (active 1794–1833), about 1815. Mahogany and rosewood (secondary woods: pine and poplar), with gilt-brass mounts, die-stamped brass inlay, some inset with ebony, mirror plate, and marble. H. 39⅛, W. 44¼, D. 21⅞ in. This monumental pier table bears various hallmarks of a Philadelphia style from about 1815. The pair of double columns at each end of the façade duplicates the format of another known Philadelphia pier table, the telescopic turnings that form the lowest register of the four columns are a feature that appears repeatedly in Philadelphia furniture of this period, and, most notably, the wide die-stamped brass inlay along the front and sides of the skirt of the table is seen in a variety of patterns on a group of high-style Philadelphia furniture, including a suite made for the Gratz family, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art; a sécretaire à abattant with Hirschl & Adler Galleries; and a bookcase on stand in the Linda and George Kaufman Collection at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Surely this was the type of ornament that Barry was referring to in an advertisement he placed in the Philadelphia General Advertiser for September 1, 1824, “2 Rich Sideboards, Buhl [sic] work,” which has been a catalyst to assign to him various pieces that are adorned in this manner.