The Important Federal Highly Inlaid Cherrywood and Mahogany Tall Case Clock, case authenticated to Nathan Lumbard (1777-1847), Sturbridge or Sutton, Massachusetts, circa 1800
- Case attributed to Nathan Lombard
- Sussex, Massachusetts
- cherrywood and mahogany
Christie Jackson, Brock Jobe, and Clark Pearce, Crafting Excellence: The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle (Winterthur, DE: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2018), n. 41.
This clock is included in the article written by Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce, “Sophistication in Rural Massachusetts: the Inlaid Cherry Furniture of Nathan Lombard,” published in American Furniture in 1998. It also appears illustrated in the most recent scholarship on Lumbard, Crafting Excellence: The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle by Christie Jackson, Brock Jobe, and Clark Pearce that will be published by Winterthur Museum in 2018. In the latter publication, the authors note that Lumbard likely trained with the cabinetmaker Oliver Wight (1765-1837) of Sturbridge, based on direct similarities in the work of these two craftsmen.3
The construction features found on this clock such as the molding profiles and tapered flanges confirm that it is a product of the Lumbard tradition.4 It displays the full range of Lumbard’s whimsical decorative vocabulary for inlays including double eagles clutching a shield on the base; a spread wing eagle perched in a cup beneath a quadrant filled with sixteen stars; swirling oval paterae with alternating dark and light rays set within diamond-shape chevron stringing; quarter fans of alternating light and dark wood set into the corners of the waist door and base; husks; inlaid variegated spear points; and the sunburst within a shield. Jackson, Jobe and Pearce note that several other motifs such as the light-wood glyphs, light and dark eight-petal flowers and zigzag stringing are a departure and seem to be by another hand – perhaps that of a journeyman in the shop.5 It is further enhanced with the additional embellishments of a case with colonnettes and quarter columns that are stop-fluted with brass reeds.
Several other related tall case clocks from the Lumbard shop are known. One in a private collection made of cherry with mahogany veneer is signed and dated by Lumbard: “Top / December 9 [or 7]th 1801 / N Lumbard / Maker.”6 It features many of the same inlays as the present clock including the swirling oval paterae, shield, chevron stringing, and quarter fans. The tapered and beveled vertical flanges, vertical quarter round cove moldings, and triangular continuous glue blocks securing the vertical corners of the case are distinctive construction features found on this clock.7 These same features are found on a cherry tall case clock signed and dated by Oliver Wight: “March / 23 1791 / Oliver Wight / Sturbridge,” with related inlays of light and dark wood quarter fans and half of an oval paterae.8 A tall case clock of cherry with double eagle inlay and swirling oval paterae is attributed to Nathan Lumbard and may have been made while he was still working in Oliver Wight’s shop.9 With Lumbard’s signature inlay motifs – swirling oval paterae framed with diamonds – and carving by the same hand as other furniture from his shop, a mahogany tall case clock is also possibly Lumbard’s work.10
1 Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce, “Sophistication in Rural Massachusetts: the Inlaid Cherry Furniture of Nathan Lombard,” American Furniture 1998, p. 165.
2 Ibid, p. 170.
3 Christie Jackson, Brock Jobe, and Clark Pearce, Crafting Excellence: The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle (Winterthur, DE: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2018), p. 195.
4 Ibid, p. 201.
5 Ibid, p. 201.
6 See ibid, plate 38.
7 Ibid, p. 195.
8 See ibid, plate 39.
9 See ibid, plate 42.
10 See ibid, plate 43.