Figures 104 and 105. Card Tables. Wealth, skilled competitors, population growth, and knowledge of fashion were parts of a mixture of ingredients in Philadelphia that produced imaginative variety in furniture design. A straight frame with nonconforming top supported by tapered Marlborough legs provides a contrasting form in Figure 105. Top corners are rounded, like those seen on Philadelphia breakfast tables (Figs.
97-98). A scrolled leaf and cabochon carved shaped skirt (Fig. 104) contrasts with applied gadrooning and pierced C-scroll brackets (Fig. 105).
Fig. 104: mahogany, white cedar, white oak;
1765-80; W 34 " (86.3 cm); acc. no. G60.1059. Fig.
105: mahogany, white oak, yellow pine, tulip; 177585; W 36" (91.4 cm); acc. no. C52.258.
Figure 106. Card Table...
Figure 38. Bed. The only stylish feature of this high-post bedstead is fluted decoration on the footposts. Though Philadelphians were generally more style conscious than New Yorkers, there was a market for Queen Anne forms and decoration in Philadelphia throughout the Chippendale period.
Poplar was the common wood for bedsteads. In 1777, George Haughton, a Philadelphia upholsterer, advertised for sale "poplar scantling fit for bedsteads.",г Fig. 38: mahogany; 1755-70; H 96V (245.6 cm), L 79V (202.6 cm); acc. no. G57.29. Figure 39. Armchair. Plate XIII (1754 ed.) and Plate X(1762 ed.) of the Director provided the design for this fashionable armchair. Related Philadelphia chairs bear the label of fames Gillingham (1736-81), but a number of cabinetmakers could have copied the pattern... >
Candlesiands. Shallow knee carving—here in the form of fleur-de-lis, V-shaped lambrequin, and acanthus leaf—combined with a turned urn and Doric or Tuscan columnar shaft relate Figure 26 to other New York screens, stands, and tables.
A heavy disc separating an urn or baluster shape from the base of the shaft is frequently seen on New York stands. The platform and squat posts supporting the top of Figure 27, called a birdcage, permitted it to revolve as well as tilt up and down. It was used in any locale where a customer would pay the extra cost required by adding this feature to a stand. New York tripod-base furniture of this period might have claw-and-ball, paw, and carved or plain dolphin feet (Figs. 25-27).
The carved C-scrolls circling its top (Fig... >
closely related to Figure 34, but in neither example is the carving in the high relief that is associated with tilt-top tables made in Philadelphia (Figs. 11518). According to Joseph Downs, this table was found in Albany. In the advertisement of the sale of household furniture noted above, "A Sett of fine Tea Table China" was also to be sold, indicating clearly the purpose of these handsome tables.6 PI. IV: mahogany, cherry; 1765-75; H 28V*~ (71.7 cm), Diam 3VM"
(81.6 cm); асе. no. C59.2928.
Plate IV. Tea Table. "A round Mahogany Pillar, and Claw Table" offered for sale in New York City in 1763 is a succinct description that might apply to Plate IV. If the term scallopt (scalloped) had been added for the piecrust edge of this tea table, no doubt would exist about its application... >
Chests of Drawers. For case furniture, cabinetmakers determined their price partially on the number of drawers to be fashioned. It follows that the most popular storage form of the period was the chest of drawers. Thick, square feet, and deeply notched, cyma-curved "swelled brackets" virtually identical, characterize Figures 15 and 16. The top drawer of Figure 15 is fitted with compartments to hold necessities for the toilet of an 18th – century gentleman.
"Dressing chests" were advertised for sale in New York City in 1773. It seems an appropriate name for this form. Of three similar examples, two bear the label of Samuel Prince, who kept a cabinet shop at the "Sign of the Chest of Drawers" in New York City.2 Figure 17 reveals (all at extra cost) stop fluting (see PI. I;
Handsome but rigidly controlled and shallow carving is a distinctive New York feature (Fig. 5a). The rear feet of Figure 5 (Fig. 5c) and the four-square claw-and-ball feet of Figure 6 are also familiar New York features. But the front feet of Figure 5 and the so-called stump rear legs of Figure 6 are more characteristic of Philadelphia chairs.
An unoriginal inscription (Fig. 6a) has been the basis for attributing much New York furniture to Gilbert Ash.’ Fig. 5: mahogany, red cedar, red oak, white pine; 1755-65; H 39’/s" (99.3 cm); one of a pair; acc. no. G57.545.1. Fig. 6: mahogany, American beech; 1755-65; H 38V (98.4 cm); no. Ill of a set; acc. no. G56.98.3.
Figures 7 and 8. Side Chairs... >
Middle Atlantic and Southern Colonies
In 1835, before the handcraft system of production in America had been replaced by modern industrial techniques, Alexis de Tocqueville characterized the utilitarian spirit in which Americans cultivated the arts: "They habitually put use before beauty, and they want beauty itself to be useful."1 Almost seventy years earlier, the colonial American painter John Durand clearly recognized the indifference of his contemporaries to the fine arts. His pathetic advertisement in The New York Journal (April 7, 1768) noted that many of the public regarded painting as a "superfluous ornament." The genius of artistic expression in eighteenth-century America, therefore, was found in beautiful and useful objects produced for homes and public buildings... >