B. SHERATON SECRETARY-BOOKCASE WITH GOTHIC-ARCHED DOORS, C. ! Socio the possession of Walter C. Harris, Esq., Salern, Mass. By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Northend
SHERATON By Courtesy
TAMBOUR SECRETARY-BOOKCASE, C- 1S00
Made in Massachusetts of Charles Wooisey Lyon, Inc., New York City
Edmund Johnson, also of Salem; so that the type was evidently there a favourite one. In this piece the tracery of the doors is rectangular and diagonal and, as was frequent, divides the glazing into thirteen sections typical of the number of the American States. The American eagle, furthermore, perches upon its pediment.
Two superb Sheraton secretary-bookcases are illustrated in Plates 86 and 87. The firSt, in light mahogany, inlaid, has the flap-desk with pulls and came from Massachusetts. Plate 87, of rather darker mahogany, has the quadrant form of desk and is from the Philadelphia neighbourhood.
It is by no means always easy to be sure of the locality in which a certain piece of American furniture was made. The colle&or of course buys from many sources; the dealer may not always be successful in tracing the history of his purchase and for information he is more or less at the mercy of his informant, though his experience and in some cases his expert knowledge of the cabinet-making methods of the different sections nevertheless Stands him in good Stead and enables him to check up. We muSt also remember the frequent migration of families. When a piece has remained in one location through a number of generations there is a fair presumption that this is its origin.
The making of such beautifuj furniture as in Plate 87, found in the Philadelphia neighbourhood, usually lies between some one of the notable Philadelphia craftsmen and men of not distant locale such as William Eckerson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, who did similarly excellent work. William Kerwood of Trenton was another fine cabinet-maker.
Though Sheraton sometimes employed flowing designs in his tracery for doors, and also the ellipse type noted in Plate 84, his preference was in accord with, his redtangular and diagonal tendency in general. This is seen in both Plates 86 and 87. Plate 86 again shows the brass knobs.
The lower tambour slide in this secretary is set back so as to be out of the way of the knees of one using it for writing purposes: it will be observed that the curves of the recession in the sideboard in Plate 67 are the same as here.
Though there is no extant testimony to that effect, I have always felt it to be moSt probable that Sheraton throughout his career was designing furniture for cabinet-makers: certain it is that we frequently encounter English furniture not appearing in his books and which yet is so chara&eriStic of his design that we do not see how it could have emanated from any other hand. Another indication is that all the way through the seventeen-nineties we find the type of pediment seen in Plates 85 B—87 employed perhaps in England and certainly in America more than any other, and yet there is not a trace of it in Sheraton's "Drawing-Book." But when in 1803 the "Cabinet Dictionary" appeared there he gives a development of the type (Plate 85 A), thus sealing it as his own.
The fine china-closet shown in Plate 88 is not very definitely of either school and it will be interesting to follow this out as an example.
In contour and proportion it is very much like some English Hepplewhite pieces but lacks juSt the frieze decoration that Stamps these pieces as Hepplewhite—^alternate fluting and paterae originally derived from Adam and much used by Hepplewhite, especially in his earlier years. It also resembles some Sheraton cabinet-pieces but they are taller and narrower than the present example.
Photograph by Whirenack
SHERATON SECRETARY-BOOKCASE IN INLAID MAHOGANY, C. 1800 MADE IN THE PHILADELPHIA NEIGHBOURHOOD By Courtesy of Howard Reifsnyder, Esq., Philadelphia
NEO-CLASSIC CHINA-CLOSET IN LIGHT MAHOGANY, INLAID By Courtesy of Charles Woo Ley Lyon, Inc., New York City
SHERATON BEDSTEAD AT UPS AL A, GERMANTOWN, PHILADELPHIA
SHERATON FIELD-BED IN THE HOME OF MRS. JAMES PROCTOR, HAMILTON, MASSACHUSETTS By Courtesy of the late Mary H. Northend
The topping of much Hepplewhite furniture is very plain, consisting merely of a few lines of moulding with or without a fine dentil and pear-drops surmounting a frieze. The Sheraton Style continued this, made a greater use of dentil and drop, and even Still further simplified the mouldings. In this respect the china-closet is of the Sheraton type.
The type of inlay in the cornice was employed by Hepplewhite and continued by Sheraton.
Door-tracery was more apt to be of this rectilinear and diagonal character under Sheraton than under Hepplewhite but is seen in the work of both schools.
Legs do not differentiate in cabinet-work, and I have come to believe that the canting outward of square legs in American furniture means as little.
The handles here used were common to both schools.
So why should we name this piece, or others of like charadter—beauty does not always require a label!
MoSt bedsteads during these years did not very definitely follow English examples, but they lean toward the Sheraton rather than the Hepplewhite type. Two fine examples are given here—Plate 89 at historic Upsala, Germantown, Philadelphia, and Plate 90 in Massachusetts.
Special attention is drawn to the illustrations of this chapter, as these carefully selected, chaSte, and dignified pieces are representative of some of the fineSt furniture made in America. Many of them also considerably differ from contemporary English pieces, and the ability of our craftsmen is attested not only by fine design and workmanship but by the use of these classic Styles as their own metier without a slavish copying of models. Little furniture ornamented by combined painting and inlay was attempted here, but some fine pieces were made by Robert Fisher of Baltimore.
Our furniture does not of course compare in elaboration of beauty with the exceedingly decorative English pieces conStruded for extensive and formal establishments, but they are in every way equal to the remaining furniture of that country and often surpass it in quality of workmanship. During the Sheraton period in England, and especially toward the close of the century, there was much irregularity in this respedt.
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