PROPERTY SOLD WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART TO BENEFIT ACQUISITION FUNDS
Exceptional for its bold design, highly figured choice mahogany, and fine condition, this one derives its character from the exuberant Rococo carved decoration. On the shell-carved drawer, the carver manipulated the outer edge of the shell’s articulated fluting into a ruffle that hugs the enclosing circle and centered it with an acanthus flourish, The sinuous leafage that flanks the shell and the symmetrical spread of foliate carving seen at the shell’s lower edge, combine in easy rhythm. The elegantly skirt is shaped with scallops while the knees are densely carved with acanthus leafage, which almost extends down the leg to the claw feet.
This dressing table appears to have been produced in the same unidentified shop as an important group of Philadelphia high chests and dressing tables with very similar carved details. These include a high chest at Winterthur from the Turner family, a high chest in the Karolik Collection owned by Judge Stacy Potts of Trenton, New Jersey, and a matching high chest at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dressing table at the Baltimore Museum of Art that belonged to Joseph Moulder of Philadelphia (see Joseph Downs, American Furniture, Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods, New York, 1952, no. 195, Edwin Hipkiss, Eighteenth-Century American Arts, Boston, 1950, no. 33, Morrison Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, no. 165 and William Voss Elder and Jayne Stokes, American Furniture, 1680-1880, from the Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 1987, no. 63). A closely related shell carved drawer and claw feet are exhibited on a dressing table from this group at Bayou Bend with a history in the Percival, Zantzinger, and Helmuth families (see David Warren, et al, American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection, Houston, 1998, F128, p. 78).
For other Philadelphia dressing tables with related details, see one sold at Neal Auctions, December 6-7, 2008, lot 413, one sold at Sotheby’s, Important Americana, September 2008, lot 43, and one sold at Northeast Actions, July 31-August 2, 2009, lot 502.
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