The Corner Blocks Are Carved With The Prince Of Wales Feathers

Carved Feather Chair

and consistency of scale. The most valid criticism of much of the Adam work is levelled against the rather unimaginative and dry quality which results from this method of design creation.

Adam, as has been said, was not a cabinet-maker, and his designs were, perforce, carried out by workmen over whom he exercised some control. But at the hands of actual cabinet-makers, the type of furniture design begun by Adam achieved its real perfection as an art-craft. The two names of Hepplewhite and Sheraton stand out as characterizing particularly personal treatments of furniture by trained cabinet-makers following out the impulse newly given by Adam. Hepplewhite, like Chippendale in his last manner, had turned to the France of Louis XV for the forms which might possibly combat the rising tide of Roman detail that was following in the wake of Robert Adam. Eventually he succumbed and we find him working in the pure Adam style although imbuing his work with enough of his own personality to mark in it a tendency away from Adam's artificiality and toward greater comfort. In its final development, the work of Hepplewhite shows the designer and the cabinetmaker in him at complete harmony, confessing at the same time obligations both to Rome and to France, but fusing the two into an English whole under the fire of personal enthusiasm for his craft.

In Sheraton is seen a cabinet-maker by trade and a designer by profession whose rank is among the foremost. He figures not only in these two fields, designing and handicraft, but also as an editor and publisher of designs by other men for furniture current in his time. Thus he stands as one of the important educational influences in the art-crafts of the end of the eighteenth century, disseminating designs and information which came into the hands of practically every furniture craftsman to the lasting improvement of English cabinet-work.

Sheraton was not only a collector of other men's designs, but actually inaugurated a distinct style of his own which differed in many minute details from that of Hepplewhite. In his chairs, he showed genuine originality, although in much of his detail is seen a seasoning of the French style of the period of Louis XVI. All in all, his designs—for his actual handiwork is unknown and unidentified, and it is not believed that he ever did any cabinet-work after he came to London in 1790—are the very last word in fine cabinetwork of the eighteenth century in England, containing the essence of all the new ideas which had come into being in the last quarter of the century, as well as some of the tendencies which eventually led to its deterioration.

Phyfe, in America, was the heir of this age and helped to prolong it, in the new land, well into the nineteenth century. By the time that he was working entirely on his own responsibility, he was able to profit by all the accomplishments of the last great English cabinet-makers and, seeing their work as a whole, he could pick and choose those treatments which his native good taste and feeling for his craft told him were legitimate and appropriate for his use. At the same time the changing style in France was eventuating in the chaste simplicity of the Directory and the early Consulate, whose influences were felt very promptly in New York.

Born in 1768 at Loch Fannich, thirty miles from Inverness, Scotland, Duncan Phyfe came with his parents and their other children to America in 1783 or 1784. On the long voyage from Scotland two of the children of the family died, one of them his younger sister. The family settled in Albany, where the boy, Duncan, then sixteen years of age, worked at the cabinet-maker's trade into which it is probable that he had been inducted before he left home. After a time he went into business for himself in Albany, where it is said that he did considerable work before leaving that city. Sometime early in the 1790's he came to New York, lured, like many another ambitious youth, by the fame of the city as a growing metropolis which recently for a short time had been the capital of the country. Locating first in Broad Street, in the midst of a district full of cabinet-makers, he made several changes of abode and work, settling finally in 1795 in Partition Street, not far from the "Common." Here he stayed for the rest of his days, seeing the town grow far to the north and pass through many changes.

At first it was a hard struggle to get sufficient work, but a fortunate connection was made with certain members of the family of John Jacob Astor, whose wealth was already very great, and this led to more and more increased business among the people of means in the city. Even before 1800 it is probable that Phyfe's work was considered among the best obtainable in New York, for in at least one case we know of a man of wealth, who, marrying in 1797, had all of the furniture for his new home made by Phyfe.

The increasing prosperity of Phyfe coincided with that of

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