Classical Bronze-Mounted Card Table, Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854)
New York 1815-1820
The cross banded oblong swivel-top with canted corners opening to a banded felt playing surface. The frieze, under a knife edge molding, boasting a central gilt-bronze mount with two facing swans and two gilt-bronze foliate mounts on the canted corners. A star stamped brass filigree band inlaid in ebony wraps the lower edge of the frieze. The case is supported by four columns with gilded Doric capitals and bases and rests on a concave shaped and molded plinth with brass string inlay. The plinth is raised on carved gilt and vert-antique painted dolphin feet with brass casters.
Condition: Excellent; the gilded elements are restored, the vert-antique paint on the dolphin bodies appears to be original but now lacks an over coating of tinted varnish that would darken the green scales. The wood has been recently polished with shellac consistent with the practice of the early 19th century. A short piece of brass inlay missing from proper left side.
H: 29¾” W: 36” D: 18”
This table is virtually identical to a pair of card tables at Winterthur Museum, except for the bronze mounts, which are of a different design.
After the war of 1812, French cabinetmakers in New York like Honoré Lannuier began to introduce French Classical styles. Furniture began to sprout zoomorphic elements such as lion, elephant, dolphin and dog feet. Eagles and other winged elements were also popular. As a result, Phyfe felt pressure to compete and conformed to the new taste, and this table is the product.
This table is one of a group with identical dolphin feet, now recognized as by Phyfe. The dolphin feet link it to an important group of tables with carved griffins and eagles. Of the group of approximately twenty tables now known, two have these distinctive dolphin feet including an example at the Metropolitan Museum.