1181
1181
Important Pair of Classical Carved and Figured Mahogany Klismos Side Chairs, Attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York, Circa 1820
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 93,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT
1181
Important Pair of Classical Carved and Figured Mahogany Klismos Side Chairs, Attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York, Circa 1820
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 93,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

|
New York

Important Pair of Classical Carved and Figured Mahogany Klismos Side Chairs, Attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York, Circa 1820
one chair and slip seat marked III the other chair marked X with slip seat IIII.
Height 32 3/4 in.
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Provenance

Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.

Catalogue Note

Side chairs such as these made during the Classical period were designed with overt references to antiquity. The form with the continuous line of the stiles and seat rail was inspired by the Greek klismos chair, while the naturalistically carved front legs and paw feet reflect a knowledge of ancient Egyptian furniture discovered at Thebes and illustrated by Dominique-Vivant Denon is Description de l’Eypte.  George Smith illustrated similar patterns for “Drawing Room Chairs” in his Collection of Designs (London, 1808, pl. 56).

Numbered III and X of a larger set with slip seats numbered III and IIII, these chairs represent one of the many variations of Classical chairs made in New York in the 1820s. Another chair from the set is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.1 The leaf-carved paw feet were a more expensive alternative to plain or leaf-carved saber legs.  The boldly figured mahogany veneers and high quality carving of the water leaves and hairy paw feet are hallmarks of the shop of Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854), the Scottish-born and trained cabinetmaker working in New York during the early 19th century.  Phyfe was known to make similar klismos seating furniture in the 1820s including a large suite of furniture for James Lefferts Brinckerhoff (1791-1846) in 1816.2 Eight klismos side chairs of mahogany with related hairy shanks and lion’s-paw feet were made as part of the Brinckerhoff suite and itemized at $22 a piece on the invoice.3 Duncan Phyfe made additional klismos side chairs of similar design in 1816 as part of a large parlor suite of furniture for Charles Nicoll Bancker (1777-1869).4

Related armchairs of similar design with upholstered backs, slip seats, and hairy paw feet are known. One formerly with Yonderhill Dwellers was included in the landmark exhibition, Classical America 1815-1915 held at The Newark Museum in 1963.5 Another armchair from a set of twelve chairs is in the collection of Richard H. Jenrette and published by Derek E. Ostergard, “My Favorite Chair,” in the Winter Antiques Show catalogue of January 1996.6 Several additional armchairs with a painted and gilded surface are in the Museum of the City of New York, a New York private collection, and at Winterthur Museum.7

1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession no. 2000.216.
2 See Peter Kenny, Michael Brown, Frances Bretter and Matthew Thurlow, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011): pp. 184-5, plate 17 and 18.
3 Ibid, p. 184.
4 See ibid, p. 188-9, plate 20.
5 The Newark Museum, Classical America 1815-1915, 1963, no. 38, p. 55 and 77.
6 14 and 17.
7 See Wendy Cooper, Classical Taste in America 1800-1840 (New York: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1993): pl. 97, p. 137.

Important Americana

|
New York