Tables And Dressingtables

Our way is now smoothed for the consideration of other furniture with the same characteristics—and very beautiful furniture it is.

Plate 72 A shows a transition Pembroke table Still largely Chippendale. Grooved or waved legs were, however, more common in Hepplewhite pieces than in Chippendale, and the block feet here begin to take on the spade form. The insides of these legs are cut out so that they are generally triangular. There is a duplicate of this piece in Independence Hall.

The next three examples are Hepplewhite card-

tables. Plate 74 with the inlaid griffin was almoSt certainly made in the South.

The Hepplewhite side-table with serpentine front (Plate 75) is a particularly charming example, in which, as in similar sideboards, the legs are not square but follow thfe curve of the front.

Plate 76 gives two Sheraton card-tables with the legs set out from the frame. The firSt is used as a dressing-table—as is entirely practicable. The second has the ellipse as a centre inlay. The panels are of satinwood.

This was an era of the small table and there are many attractive examples. Tea-tables and sewing-tables were frequent. All have the characteristic contours and ornament.

The Mirror-supports in the small dressing-table shown in Plate 77 are a trifle clumsy and heavy and suggest that it may be a late piece in which those faults were creeping in as an unhappy forerunner of the Empire Style. Otherwise it is moSt graceful.

A superb piece of furniture is the dressing-table illustrated in Plate 78. The ringed treatment of the upper legs was very much used in New England but was also occasionally employed by Duncan Phyfe.

The slender tripod table with rat's feet appearing in Plate 80 is of these classic years.

The little "bason Stand" at the left in Plate 46 is a direCt, slightly simplified, rendering of the central design in Plate 42 of Sheraton's "Drawing-Book." At the other extreme of Plate 46 is an excellent Sheraton chair.


Fundamentally the case-piece is a box on legs or feet, more or less ornamented in a manner common to

SHERATON SIDEBOARD WITH PAW-FEET By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Norrhend

Photograph bv Whitenack


B. HEPPLEWHITE INLAID CARD-TABLE Both by Courtesy of Howard Reifsnyder, Esq.

HEFPLEWHITE SEMI-CIRCULAR CARD-TABLE Of the general contour of Hepplewhite's Plate 60 By Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum

  • HB

Photograph by Dillon


SHERATON INLAID CARD-TAHLES MADE IN NEW ENGLAND By Courtesy Howard Ileifsnyder, Esq. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum

SHERATON MAHOGANY DKESSING-TABLE By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Norrhend

Sheraton Movement American Furniture
Photograph by Whitenack

SHERATON DRESSING-TABLE WITH RINGED LEGS, 1800-10 Mahogany with edges of drawers cross-banded in rosewood CLASSIC WALL-BRACKETS FROM THE BURD HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnvder, Esq.

the whole period. It will be realised then how difficult it is to differentiate the types of Hepplewhite and Sheraton. There was no revolution, no radical change. Into the Neo-Classic Style of which the Hepplewhite firm was then leader came in 1790 a new individuality —that of Sheraton, which gradually imposed itself upon the movement. From the firSt we of course find examples that are definitely Sheraton, but by the side of these are others differing very slightly indeed from those of five years, before. The new comer did not greatly vary the existing decorative motifs, and so in conservative cabinet-pieces where a pediment of Sheraton type was not superimposed, where the legs were not extended, or other individual features added, we can scarcely find more than an indication in one direction or the other.

In such cases there are two opposing tendencies that if remembered go far in our aid. It has already been mentioned that Hepplewhite retained much more of the curvilinear element of the previous era than did Sheraton; that is to say that, as an expert friend expresses it, he had a love for the shaping of contours. Sheraton clung to the rectilinear, but when he indulged in curves they were long and graceful. His Straight lines were likewise long—his tendency was toward the tall and narrow, the compressed and the severe; sometimes almoSt the tight. And the marvel of it is that no furniture has more of charm than Sheraton's.

Let us apply this teSt. The little desk in Plate 79 is angular, narrow and high-shouldered. And how lovely a piece it is!

It has no distinguishing features. What might seem to be such are soon disposed of, and this will clear the way for the future. The tambour-slide is not a characteristic: it appeared in London in the seventeen-

eighties and is common to both schools, though in America more frequently appearing in the Sheraton pieces.

The French splay foot (Plates 80 and 81) with or without the curved apron between them, is sometimes credited to Hepplewhite, probably because his book was the earlier. But Shearer shows it also, and, according to date of publication, his book, "The London Book of Prices," was earlier ¿till. In fad and in furniture it is entirely common to both and to Sheraton as well.

It will be noted that there are two types of apron-also promiscuously used—that which appears here, and that illustrated in Plate 85 B. Nor is the banding of the edges of drawers typical; for it appears in both Hepplewhite and Sheraton furniture.

But in this desk (Plate 80) so entirely Sheraton-esque in its square-shoulderedness, there are also small features belonging to that school—the brass knobs of the desk and the dropped rings above the tambour.

Both the above examples are of New England make. The slant-topped desk shown in Plate 81 is of Philadelphia and is a piece of much distinction. It will be noted that the type of inlay in Plates 79 and 81 differs very little. For larger surfaces of inlay the northern se&ion might employ maple or birch and the southern satinwood, but this was not invariable.

High cheSts and highboys were by now definitely abandoned in favour of low cheSts-of-drawers. In the Hepplewhite example illustrated in Plate 82 we see the "shaping" referred to—not only in the serpentine front but in the apron and in the tipping outward of the feet. There is a flowing quality in the whole appearance of the piece. In other examples it will be betrayed in a different manner, for these laSt two features are confined to furniture found in the neighbourhood of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and so are local. In the card-tables Plates 72 B and 74, side-table Plate 75, and the sideboard Plate 63, this quality of "shaping" will be noted. In the latter two the legs are not square but follow the curve of the top both on their fronts and backs. Hepplewhite chair-backs are wholly curvilinear and his sofas almoSt always show the rounded or the camel-back.

The more usual type of Hepplewhite cheSt-of-drawers was the serpentine form with but slight chamfers and with Straight bracket feet; thus securing a much narrower corner and lighter and more refined effect than the early Chippendale cheSt by GoStelowe illustrated in Plate 42.

The simple but very pretty bow-front Sheraton cheSts-of-drawers used to be frequent in antique shops but now are much less so—moSt of them have evidently disappeared into private ownership.

Recently seen in the window of a Philadelphia antique-shop was an attractive Sheraton che^t-of-drawers, flat-fronted, with reeded Stiles at the sides, and slender turned legs. The drawers were panelled in the triple arrangement characteristic of the Portsmouth, N. H. pieces above mentioned, the central panel being the narrower and of maple while the side panels were of mahogany—see Plate 82 A. Being at once curious whether this mode had extended to Pennsylvania, I stepped inside and asked the proprietor if he knew the history of the piece. His answer was: "It came from New England." To that section therefore this individuality evidently belongs.

In Plates 83 and 85 B we see two secretary-bookcases without inlay and with typical Sheraton pediments- The second, with pointed-arch ("Gothic")

doors is in New England and was probably made there: the firSt with round arches was found in Camden, New Jersey, and was made in Philadelphia or its neighbourhood. This feature of the four arches disposed in this manner would seem to be American, as I have not noted it elsewhere.

Plate 83 shows the desk at which I am now writing, and, because of its unusual lowness, when I acquired it some years ago I promptly christened it "the dumpling." Its total height is but 5 ft., in., and its breadth 3 ft., in. All the five outside drawers are of beautifully grained mahogany veneer, and these drawers are slightly rounded outward towards • their centres and are cock-beaded. Inside the doors are three additional small drawers and a single shelf for books.

FirSt among the larger pieces, because of its extensive travel, is mentioned the secretary-bookcase in Plate 84 with its Salem, Massachusetts, label, now in South Africa; reproduced through the kindness of Mr. G. Reginald Grundy, Editor of the invaluable London Connoisseur. "Through what vicissitudes it has passed may never now be known" but it has been there "for many years." The brass finials are missing, but it retains much of its original glass. I am particularly happy in giving this illustration in that, sfo far as I am aware, it adds one more name to our list of known American craftsmen. The extensive employment of the ellipse I have mentioned as so frequent in Sheraton work is certainly evident here—in the tracery as well as the base. Another type of Sheraton pediment is seen in this piece.

A secretary-bookcase recently illustrated in The Antiquarian by courtesy of Mr. I. Sack and exceedingly close to the above example bears the label of

SHERATON NEW ENGLAND DESK (C. 1800) AND SHERATON CHAIR By Courtesy Howard Reifsnyder, Esq.

SHERATON NEW ENGLAND TAMBOUR DESK (C. 1810) AND RAT-FOOT TABLE Hopkins House, Boston By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Northend

SHERATON LIGHT MAHOGANY INLAID DESK, C. 1800 Made in Philadelphia By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnvder, Esq.


B. DESK OF MOUNTAIN CHERRY Made in Philadelphia By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnyder, Esq. Photograph by Dillon.

SHERATON MAHOGANY SECRETARY-BOOKCASE, C. 1800 Made in the Philadelphia neighbourhood Property of the Author

A SALEM SECRETARY-BOOKCASE IN SOUTH AFRICA WITH ITS LABEL The Property of W. R. Morrison, Esq., Cape Town By Courtesy of The Connoisseur, London


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