PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF PATRICIA M. SAX
These card tables relate stylistically to a group of tables attributed to Deming and Bulkley with dolphin supports and Charleston histories. These tables are identified and discussed by Maurie D. McInnis and Robert A. Leath in “Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840,” published in American Furniture 1996, edited by Luke Beckerdite (Hanover and London: the Chipstone Foundation): 137-174. One of these tables made of rosewood with satinwood veneers descended in the Alston-Pringle family of Charleston.1 Two others of rosewood with magnificent spread eagle supports and dolphin feet were acquired in the early twentieth century by the Roebling family of Charleston.2 With mahogany veneers, simple carved dolphins, no freehand gilded decoration, and rope-twist balusters, one with a history in the Huger family was considerably less expensive than the aforementioned examples.3
This pair of tables was likely commissioned by a wealthy client. The canted corner top ornamented with mahogany veneers sits atop elaborately carved dolphin front supports and acanthus carved balusters at the rear. The concave four-sided plinth below with canted corners is supported by carved and gilded dolphin feet with acanthus leaves and vert antique decoration. Commonly associated with the goddess Venus in antiquity, the dolphin motif was fashionable during the Classical period and appears in English design books such as Thomas Sheraton’s Cabinet Dictionary (1803) and Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (1825). This group of tables attributed to Deming and Bulkley suggest that the motif was especially popular in Charleston. Several other examples of seating furniture with dolphin supports made for the Charleston market include a recamier that belonged to Colonel William Washington (1785-1830) and a sofa that descended in the Ravenel family.4
1 See Maurie D. McInnis and Robert A. Leath “Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840,” American Furniture 1996, edited by Luke Beckerdite (Hanover and London: the Chipstone Foundation), p.138, fig. 1.
2 See ibid, p. 158, fig. 19.
3 See ibid, p. 161, fig. 24.
4 See ibid, p. 162, fig. 26 and p. 163, fig. 29.
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