P.O. Box 210, Planitarium Station New York City, NY 10024 United States 646.645.0404
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Rare Cabinet-form Secretary Bookcase

Origin United States, New York
Period 19th Century
Materials Carved Mahogany
W. 55 in; H. 80 in; D. 19 in;
W. 139.7 cm; H. 203.2 cm; D. 48.26 cm;
Condition Excellent.
Creation Date c. 1820
In the Manner of Duncan Phyfe
New York c. 1820

The flat oblong pediment top over a tall case having a pair of paneled cabinet doors with glazed arched and Gothic tracery windows in the top half flanked by pilasters with acanthus carved capitals, opening to a bookcase with four adjustable shelves bisected by a fall front secretary section with stacked short drawers with original stamped brass pulls flanking the fall front writing surface, all resting on a base raised on acanthus carved animal paw feet and turned legs in back.

H: 80” W: 55” D: 19”

Condition: Excellent: The bronze keyhole escutcheon mounts are replacements for missing mounts for which pinholes near the keyholes are unmistakable evidence. (The mounts were copied from mounts original to a “bonheur du jour” made about 1820 with virtually identical carved feet, descended in the Livingston family of New York and attributed to Duncan Phyfe, see the show catalogue: “Of the Newest Fashion,” Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc. 2001, pp. 46-7). The bronze astragal molding replacement for the missing original. Replaced molded cornice on proper right pilaster. Some veneer replacements on bottom case rail. Re-finished with shellac in the manner of the period.

This form has no known counterparts in American classical furniture. The form is seen in plate 732 of Pierre de La Mésangère's Collection des Meubles et Objets de Goût (Paris, 1832-1834) and M. Paul Cornu’s reprint of a selection of Mésangère's plates, Meubles et Objets de Goût (Paris, 1900), pl. 109, where it is described as a Bibliothèque. This design, in the Restauration taste, must be predicated on an unpublished model at least fifteen years older, as the present example clearly pre-dates the Mésangère drawing. It is not clear from the drawing if the design incorporates a secretary section.

Mésangère's plates were published serially from 1802 to 1835, a few plates at a time, in cahiers or albums as a supplement to the Journal des Dames et de Modes. These designs, already in production in France, heavily influenced both English and American designers. Related cabinet bookcases do not seem to appear in English pattern books of the period.
Styles / Movements Classical, Empire, Neoclassical
Dealer Reference Number SE-0011122
Incollect Reference Number 201992
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