1180

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

|
New York

Exceptional Classical Brass Inlaid Carved and Figured Mahogany Trestle-Base Work Table, Attributed to Thomas Seymour; Carving attributed to Thomas Wightman, Boston, Massachusetts, Circa 1810

Provenance

Hirschl & Adler, Inc., New York.

Catalogue Note

This handsome and complex work table bears many of the earmarks of an early Neo-Classical style in Boston about 1810-15. The trestle-base form, although occasionally seen elsewhere, was a particularly popular design in Boston and is seen on a considerable number of card, or games, tables, and work tables, as well as occasionally on other pieces, including a small desk (see Christie 's, New York, January 15 and 16, 2004, sale 1279, lot 457).

Many of these pieces are of very fine quality, but the confluence of outstanding design and exceptional workmanship place the present work table in a special category, which prompts an attribution to the distinguished cabinetmaking shop of Thomas Seymour, the younger of a father (John, 1738-1818)-son team who supplied a generation of Bostonians with the finest furniture in an early Neo-Classical aesthetic. For an informed study of the Seymours' work, see Robert D. Mussey, Jr., The Furniture Masterworks of John & Thomas Seymour (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, 2003).

Of particular note is the exceptional quality of the acanthus leaf carving on the four columnar supports, deeply cut and beautifully finished, that is also seen on a number of related pieces and which Mussey describes as "distinctive." The carver was likely the English import, Thomas Wightman, whose work has long been recognized as the best of its kind and appears on a considerable number of pieces included by Mussey in his canon of John and Thomas Seymour's work, including the acanthus leaves on the extraordinary front posts of a bed in the Karolik Collection (Mussey, p. 102 fig. 5.26). Of Wightman, Mussey writes:

       "With Thomas Wightman's arrival in Boston in 1797 from London where he had worked for ten years as a carver, the Seymours gained another collaborator who would add a distinctive formal elegance to the cabinetmakers' furniture over the next twenty years .... No other carver working in Federal Boston could match the quality of his designs and workmanship, and no other English trained carver immigrated to the town in the entire period to compete with him."1 

1 Robert D. Mussey, Jr., The Furniture Masterworks of John & Thomas Seymour (Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, 2003), p. 42.

Important Americana

|
New York