3. "If cabinet-furniture is inlaid it is Hepplewhite: Sheraton pieces are usually mahogany without inlay."
We shall presently examine these di&a. But I may here give a word of warning: if one accepts and applies them and then takes a trip to London—the home of these ¿lyles, be it remembered—and, visiting there the shops of the leading dealers, calls certain pieces of furniture Hepplewhite, he may be surprised to be greeted with the remark: "But, my dear sir, that is Sheraton, don't you know!" He may experience the same surprise if he ¡Studies the books of English authorities on the subject.
Among sideboards—and other corresponding furniture—there is one type at leai& that causes no difficulty and that may at once be eliminated from discussion. In England and in America the ¡Style shown in Plates 70 and 71, in which the leg ¿lands out beyond the body of the piece—the archite&ural "engaged column" transferred to furniture—is unfailingly Sheraton. And the lion-head dropped-ring handle is also his. The dropped-ring with ornamental centre-piece seen in these two examples is earlier, but is usually in America confined to Sheraton furniture.
Firft of all, one investigating the subje<5t would be likely to feel that the books of Hepplewhite and Sheraton should be consulted, and that there he would find authoritative information. I have already given some hints as to their incompleteness as a satisfactory exposition of the actual Styles of the res-peftive schools, but let us see what they will do for our enlightenment. As these books, even in their reprints, are somewhat coStly and not easily come by, and as only the leading libraries have them, where they are held as works of reference, I have afforded the reader some help by making tracings of the illustrations that principally interest us here.
A number of designs by Thomas Shearer appear in "The Cabinet-Makers London Book of Prices," published in 1788. These show much ability, and his name, so long overwhelmed by greater reputations, should be, more publicly recognised. He gives five designs for sideboards, and I have traced the two which more especially concern us—Plate 62. The other three are a plain bow-front, a semi-circular, and a bow-front with pedeStals, for urns, attached.
To Shearer is given the credit of introducing the sideboard current at the period we are considering, because of the publication of the book containing the designs in 1788 while Hepplewhite's "Guide" was not issued till the following year. But on the two Hepple-white plates, also traced in Plate 64, are engraved the publication dates 1787. As I have mentioned, we do not know whether this publication was merely formal or otherwise; but as Hepplewhite—or his widow—says in the text that: "The great utility of this piece of furniture has procured it a very general reception," he would appear to have made such sideboards anterior to the publication of the book.
However this may be, it will at once be evident, by comparison, that the type of sideboard illustrated here by Mr. Reifsnyder's very fine example in Plate 63 and which is universally called "Hepplewhite" is, so
HEPPLEW HUE "IDEBO iRD IN INLAID MAHOGANY WITH SATINWOOD URNS Made in the Philadelphia Neighbourhood By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnyder, Esq.
A. By Courtesy of M. Harris & Sons, New Oxford Street, London
B. By Courtesy of C. Angell, Bath, England ENGLISH INLAID SERPENTINE SIDEBOARDS AND THEIR ATTRIBUTIONS
B. PERSPECTIVE CONTOURS OF SIDEBOARD TOPS ALL FROM SHERATON'S "DRAWING-BOOK"
SHERATON INLAID MAHOGANY SIDEBOARD By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnvder, Esq., Philadelphia
A. SHERATON CHAIR-BACKS, PLATE 36 OF HIS "DRAWING-BOOK"
Old Sheraton satin wood Side Table, 4 ft. 4 in. wide.
B. AN ENGLISH RENDERING OF PLATE 4 OF SHERATON'S APPENDIX By Courtesy of W. F. Greenwood & Sons, Ltd., York and Harrowgare
SHERATON SIDEBOARD OR LARGE PIER-TABLE, IN LIGHT MAHOGANY, INLAID AN AMERICAN RENDERING OF PLATE 4 OF THE APPENDIX TO SHERATON'S "DRAWING-BOOK" By Courtesy of Charles Woolsey Lyon, Inc., New York City
NEW ENGLAND SHERATON SIDEBOARD WITH THE CHARACTERISTIC EXTENDED LEGS By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Northend far as the books go, of the firSt Shearer model, in that the top is in front an unbroken serpentine line. Furthermore, it, like Shearer's design, is lighter than the Hepplewhite. Nevertheless it is credited to Hepple-white and I think that this very beautiful type with little ornament would be called Hepplewhite in England as well as here; but the serpentine sideboard seems to have afforded "a free race for all." One of the Shearer tracings shows the form unbroken; one of Hepplewhite^ gives it with Straight spaces above the legs; Sheraton does not show it at all, but this contour constantly appears in existing Sheraton sideboards. Those of the type of the English examples in Plate 65 are in that country universally considered as Sheraton. I could illustrate numerous advertisements of moSt experienced, widely known English dealers where, without exception, they are so denominated, but these two, with their own attributions reproduced beneath, will suffice as examples. Furthermore, Mr. Herbert Ceszinsky, the foremoSt living authority on English furniture, illustrates the same type in his sedion on Thomas Sheraton in Volume III of his "English Furniture of the Eighteenth Century." On the other hand in America these sideboards are frequently credited to Hepplewhite.
As this is probably done because they are inlaid (as per the so-called "rule,") let us investigate inlay.
Sheraton in a large proportion of his designs used elaborate ornament: but the English cabinet-maker in actually rendering them frequently simplified—as did our own men. The type of inlay then used is seen in the two English sideboards illustrated and consisted mainly of a line, or "String," inlay with fan or other paterae, triangular fans, shells, and the like. It appears in much English furniture of unmistakable Sheraton Style, such as secretary-bookcases, desks, and particularly in small tables. The same general type appeared in Hepplewhite furniture as well, for it was a common property of the period and was employed in both Styles and in both countries.
I will at once instance a case in which the exclusive identification of inlay with the Hepplewhite mode would lead us distinctly aStray. Plate 69 shows us an extremely graceful type of sideboard, or large pier-table—and it has this type of inlay. If the "rule" were followed the piece would be called Hepplewhite. What is it ? It is a rendering of Plate 4 of the Appendix in Sheraton's "Drawing-Book"—a pier-table of the same design, but with an urn and pendants upon the centre of the Stretcher and very ornamental round legs. It is indeed a very ornamental piece throughout—but it was simplified in the making in England in at leaSt one instance and that instance is illustrated in Plate 68 B here. Compare it with this sideboard Mr. Lyon has so kindly allowed me to show—Plate 69. The type of inlay is the same, though the pattern is different, and it is pleasing to be able to say in this case the American example is superior.
Now what shall we call this sideboard? It is absolutely Sheraton, yet has the type of inlay sometimes identified in America with Hepplewhite. In talking over existing confusions one day with Mr. Eberlein he laughingly suggested that we should call them "Sherawhite." As Sheraton adopted this type of Stretcher from Adam, I might, in the same spirit, go Mr. Eberlein "one better" and denominate this sideboard as "Sherawhiteadam." Seriously, however, can we allow a but partially adopted practice to over rule an unmi&akably corred nomenclature? And if this is done how are we rendering honour where honour is due ? We muSt call this sideboard Sheraton.
And this holds good of every piece of furniture of the contour of the Sheraton sideboard traced in Plate 66 A—the Straight-front with convexly rounded corners and straight ends. Though Sheraton borrowed many other things, this contour (like the extended legs) is Sheraton's own. It appears in numerous designs in his book exclusively. Indeed the convex is his favourite curve, as is shown in the three tracings below this sideboard.
Another example of this contour is given in Plate 67, and the treatment of this piece in general is also Sheraton.
It should be added that the saying in America regarding inlay has become rather current probably as a rough-and-ready "help/" but it is so faulty as to be positively misleading and its use should not be extended. Two of the Sheraton sideboards illustrated here (Plates 70 and 71) and some case-pieces, are without inlay, but they are in the minority. Sheraton explained that hollowing the front of sideboards made it more convenient for a butler to reach across them: this feature will be found in both these examples.
That the round, fluted leg is in American furniture indicative of the Style of Sheraton is almoli invariably true. I, however, know of a set of twelve shield-back chairs, with serpentine front, curved sides, and hollowed seat—every one of these features shouting of Hepplewhite—and they have round, fluted legs. In English furniture the round leg is so promiscuously used as to be non-committal.
The square leg, and especially with spade foot, is in seating-furniture and tables moSt commonly allied with Hepplewhite. But here, already, we have an exception—do not both the unmistakably Sheraton and American chairs in Plate 54 have square legs and spade feet ? And outside of seating-furniture and tables it is no criterion whatever.
The simple fadt is that, in the various legged pieces of furniture, Adam, Shearer, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton display about every form of Straight leg that could be imagined, and that round and square were almoSt indiscriminately used. In Sheraton English furniture I should think there is very little numerical excess of one over the other. He uses the square leg in the sideboard design in Plate 66 A: with the other contours, Plate 66 B, the firSt and the laSt have round legs and the central example square. The four are therefore equally divided. We shall soon see the degrees of employment in American case-pieces.
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