Gilt-Stenciled Brass-Inlaid Pier Table Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854)
New York, 1825-1830
The oblong “Egyptian” marble top with reeded edge and rounded front corners above a conforming apron elaborately stenciled with a central design of scrolls and swans facing a central urn and with stencils at the front corners and inlaid die-stamped brass banding at the bottom edge. The frieze is supported in front by “Egyptian” marble columns with highly elaborate gilt-bronze capitals and bases and in back by “Egyptian” marble pilasters with gilded wood capitals and bases that flank a mirror. This is supported by a concave plinth decorated with an elaborate central gilt stencil and inlaid die-stamped brass banding on its edge. The table is raised of four parcel-gilt lotus and melon-ribbed carved feet.
H: 37″ W: 42″ D: 18″
Condition: Excellent: The gilt stencil on the plinth has been restored as has the gilt and verde-antique decoration of the feet. The original marble top has been re-polished. The wood has been refinished with shellac in the manner of the period.
Published: Peter M. Kenny and Michael K. Brown, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011), 218-219, pl. 39.
Exhibitions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York,” December 2011 – May 2012.
This table is the mate to a pier table in the collection of The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia (accession #1981.1000.76 A-B).
Describing the stenciled and free-hand gilded decoration of this table as “spectacular,” Peter Kenny says in his definitive study of Duncan Phyfe’s career, “The painter-gilder who executed this decoration was without pier. His artistry also appears to be in evidence on the front rails and acroterion corners of the 1826 Donaldson window seats (pl. 34), and the apron and surrounding border of the painted scagliola top of the Whitney family center table (pl.40).”
Related gilt-stenciled brass-inlaid pier tables are in the collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, NY., and in Georgia’s governor’s mansion. A closely related table with an almost identical gilt stenciled frieze sold at Sotheby’s in January 1986, lot. 602. Research by Page Talbott writing for MWPI indicates that their table, ordered by William and Betsy Randall of Cortland, NY, was made about 1828, which would be consistent with related furniture and decoration made by Phyfe for the Donaldson’s in 1826 and the Whitney’s in 1827. 1 This dating is also consistent with the highly stenciled work of a half-dozen other New York firms including Deming & Bulkley (working 1820-1850), Holmes and Haines (working 1825-1830), Meeks & Sons (working 1798-1867), Kinnan & Mead (working 1823-1830), and Williams & Dawson (working 1824-1832).