1179

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

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New York

Classical Brass Inlaid and Carved Giltwood and Verte Antique Rosewood Games Table, Possibly Michael Allison, New York, Circa 1815

Provenance

Keno Auctions, New York, Inaugural Sale: Session II, May 2, 2010, lot 312.

Catalogue Note

With its superbly carved and gilded winged caryatid figure, stenciled and inlaid decoration, and gilded eagle-form paw feet, this games table is an elaborate expression of Classical furniture in the French taste made in New York. Stenciled motifs and gilded decoration were commonly used during this period to simulate more expensive materials and here they are meant to resemble ormolu mounts. Inspired by ancient Greek and Egyptian design sources, the sculptural caryatid was used as a support on tables made in New York. This tripod of support above a four-footed base may derive from Pierre de la Mésangère’s Collection des Meubles et Objets de Goût (France, published serially from 1803 to 1835). This arrangement was favored by Charles Honoré Lannuier (1779-1819), the leading New York cabinetmaker working in the French style, but was also found on furniture made by his contemporaries.

This games table relates to several pieces of furniture made by Michael Allison (1773-1855), the accomplished New York cabinetmaker who made very fine furniture in the Federal, Classical and late Classical styles. Born in Haverstraw, New York, Allison is listed in city directories working at various addresses on Vesey Street from 1800 to 1850.  He worked with his brother, Richard Allison (1780-1825) from 1807 to 1813. His probate inventory dated April 17, 1855 was valued at $27,860.55.

A mahogany worktable labeled by Michael Allison in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art similarly features finely articulated carved eagle shaped feet.1 The worktable displays Allison’s label with the address No. 46 and 48 Vesey Street and date of October 1823.  Two card tables with closely related eagle form feet are attributed to Michael Allison. One was sold at Stair, The Estate of Joseph T. Butler, Tarrytown, New York, April 25, 2015, lot 516. Its mate from the Wunsch Americana Foundation was exhibited in the New York State Museum in Albany and illustrated in John L. Scherer, New York Furniture, The Federal Period, 1788-1825 (New York, 1988). 

1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 33.160. Marshall B. Davidson and Elizabeth Stillinger, The American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1985), p. 149.

Important Americana

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New York