FINE SHERATON CARVED MAHOGANY DROP-LEAF DINING TABLE

Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854)

New York  c.1820

The figured solid mahogany top with D-shaped drop leaves on a single ring-turned pedestal raised on saber legs with distinctive acanthus carving at the knees, terminating in elaborate brass toe caps with casters.  Secondary wood: Ash

H: 28¼”  D: 48”  W: 24”  W: open, 54”

Condition: Excellent; re-finished with shellac in the manner of the period.  The brass castors have been restored to their original lacquered matte and burnished appearance.

The design of this table can be traced back to Thomas Sheraton who introduced to the broader world the earliest influences of ancient furniture adopted for ‘modern’ use in his Cabinet Dictionary (London, 1803).  In plate 44 he illustrates a “Dumb Waiter” with four splayed “saber” legs with plain brass toe cap casters, almost identical to the present example.  In plate 64, “Pillars for Tables and Stands,” two of the five designs were probably the inspiration for the multiple ring turned pedestal of this table.

Of dense and richly figured solid San Domingo mahogany, this table bears many hall marks of the Phyfe shop including the extreme high quality of the wood and, most importantly, the style of the turning on the pedestal and carving at the knees that relates directly to many tables attributed to Phyfe.  The knee carving can be seen on a Pembroke table that remains in the collection of a Phyfe descendant and in a card table labeled by Phyfe, (see: Peter M. Kenny & Michael K. Brown, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York  (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011), p.284, 2.13, p. 287, 2.23).  It can also be seen in a group of card tables, one, pictured in Nancy McClelland’s study, Duncan Phyfe and the English Regency (New York, 1939), plate 239,  made by Phyfe for his neighbor John Jacob Astor.  A closely related pair of card tables with the same carving is in the collection of the Governor’s Mansion of the State of Texas in Austin.  Conclusively, a pair of bronze-mounted rosewood card tables from the Kane Collection with identical pedestals and knee carving to the present table are now understood to be part of the incomparable Donaldson commission from Phyfe, c. 1822.[1]  This pair of card tables has recently been acquired by the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust for eventual return to “Edgewater,” the Donaldson’s house on the Hudson River.

This distinctive carving can also be seen on a dining table made for William Gaston of Savannah in plate 262 of McClelland’s book.  In plate 282, McClelland shows a part of a dining table made by Phyfe for Charles Gustavus Smedberg, which exhibits the same carving at the knee.  Also attributed to Phyfe are: a closely related drop-leaf dining table with identical turned pedestal, pictured in American Antiques from Israel Sack, vol. V, 1974, p.1297; a drum table in the library of the White House, with the same distinctive turned pedestal and carved legs (see American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, vol. VI, (New York, 1979), p.50, and, Sack, vol. 1, p. 184, No. 479.

This rare single-pedestal dining table seats six.

[1] Kenny & Brown, p. 208-211 and Important American Furniture, and Decorative Arts, The Ronald Kane Collection, Christie’s, January 22, 1994, sale 7822, lot #379.