P.O. Box 210, Planitarium Station New York City, NY 10024 United States 646.645.0404
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Plain-Style Mahogany Ladys' Writing Fire Screen

Origin United States, New York
Period 19th Century
Materials Mahogany and marble.
W. 23.25 in; H. 48.75 in; D. 21 in;
W. 59.06 cm; H. 123.83 cm; D. 53.34 cm;
Condition Good. The marble top, leather writing surface and front and back upholstery are replacements.
Creation Date New York, c. 1835-1841.
Description Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854) or D. Phyfe & Sons (1837-1840).

The marble slab top above a shallow case with an upholstered fall front opening to a leather writing surface and a fitted interior with an upper shelf, a pair of ogee-shaped dividers and ink and sander wells that swing forward centering a pen holder. The case is held by a pair of rectangular up-rights having molded bases supported on a trestle base with scrolled and tapering rectangular legs connected by a flat rectangular stretcher. The legs terminate in brass caster wheels.

The form was developed at the end of the 18th century to allow ladies to write near the fireplace and "both receive the benefit of the fire, and have her face screened from its scorching heat."

This example in the "Grecian Plain-Style" is almost identical to one made by Duncan Phyfe for Governor and Mrs. John Lawrence Manning of Millford Plantation, Pinewood, South Carolina. That piece appears on the bill of lading from Phyfe dated June 2, 1841 in crate #34 as: "Screen for Mrs. Hampton." Phyfe decorated and furnished the entire house and sent 47 crates to the Manning's. The unadorned yet assertive style was designed to contrast with the Greek Revival interior having elaborately carved door cornices, moldings and column capitals. The effect is exhilarating. Today, Millford Plantation is open to the public and retains many of its original furnishings by Phyfe. (see

A closely related example made by Phyfe for the Montague family of Richmond, Virginia is also known in a private collection.
Styles / Movements Classical, Neoclassical
Incollect Reference Number 109381
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