Carved mahogany box sofa with cylindrical crest rail with foliate finials at each end above an upholstered back and arms with arm rests faced by carved urns above a plinth with an incised rosette above a paneled seat rail raised on bold legs with Ionic capitals above a turned, tapering pedestal with lotus-carved ball feet.

CARVED MAHOGANY BOX SOFA

Attributed to Isaac Vose & Son

with Thomas Wightman, carver

Boston, 1819-1824

The cylindrical crest rail with foliate finials at each end above an upholstered back and arms with arm rests faced by carved urns above a plinth with an incised rosette above a paneled seat rail raised on bold legs with Ionic capitals above a turned, tapering pedestal with lotus-carved ball feet.

H: 34½”  W: 84″  D: 27″

Condition: Excellent: refinished with shellac in the manner of the period, modern upholstery.

There are at least six of these Boston carved mahogany box sofas, each with variations in the crest rail, urn carving and feet, yet identifiable as a group and attributable to Vose.  One is at Winterthur Museum and one is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[1]  They are all inspired by designs for a “Dress Sofa” published by Rudolph Ackermann in the Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (London, Rudolph Ackermann, 1809-1828), series 2, vol. 2, February 1821.  In this case, the upholstery has been recreated in the exact style of the Ackermann illustration.

A carved mahogany box sofa with a closely related crest rail and legs in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, bears the label of William Hancock, a Boston upholsterer.  It is unclear if Hancock made the frame for the sofa, but it seems likely, given new evidence supplied by Mussey and Pearce, that the frame may have been commissioned by Hancock who upholstered it, but was made by Vose.[2]


[1] Jonathan L. Fairbanks and Elizabeth Bidwell Bates American Furniture 1620 to the Present (New York: Richard Marek, 1981), 277, and Robert D. Mussey, Jr. and Clark Pearce Rather Elegant Than Showy (Boston: The Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018), 102-103, figs. 112-113.

[2]see, 19th Century America: Furniture and other Decorative Arts (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970), fig. 65.

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