DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN FURNITURE AND FOLK ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANNIE ABRAM AND STEVE NOVAK
This Pembroke table is typical of the sophisticated inlaid furniture made in New York where tables of this type are often lavishly ornamented. The rectangular panels on the skirt are edged with light stringing and crossbanding. Oval paterae are inlaid on the front and sides edges of the skirt. The single-taper legs are outlined with light stringing and enhanced with crossbanded cuffs. To enhance their vertical thrust, the legs are inlaid on two sides with six bellflowers of increasing size suspended from a loop of stringing and separated by inlaid dots.
A Pembroke table owned by George Washington is very closely related.1 In form and decoration, the two Pembroke tables are virtually identical dimensionally, and differ only in the treatment of the feet and in the brass drawers pulls. The Washington table is fitted with caps and castors while this table was fitted with brass caps and has never had castors. Washington purchased his table in the fall of 1789 for his wife, Martha, from Thomas Burling (1746-1831), the Quaker cabinetmaker who retailed New York and Philadelphia-made furniture in his shop on Beekman Street in New York. Along with this “Inlaid Breakfast Table,” Washington also purchased a large writing desk “and a best Inlaid Tea Table” from Burling for his residence on Cherry Street in New York, after he was elected to the presidency in 1789. At the conclusion of the presidency, Washington listed the table among his “private Cabinet work” that he purchased himself and it was moved to Mount Vernon. Other furniture purchased from Burling for Washington’s executive residence includes a set of sixty-eight mahogany side chairs, one of which is in the collection of Mount Vernon.2 On April 17, 1790, Washington paid Burling 7 pounds for a leather-upholstered armchair referred to as an “uncommon chair,” also at Mount Vernon, which he used throughout his presidency and for the remainder of his life.3
1 See Carol Borchert Cadou, The George Washington Collection: Fine and Decorative Arts at Mount Vernon (New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2006), p. 198-9, no. 63.
2 Mount Vernon acc. number W-4116.
3 Mount Vernon acc. number W-159.
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