Description: RARE AMERICAN CHIPPENDALE SIDEBOARD TABLE WITH ONE LEAF
With Shell Carved Legs on Ball & Claw Feet; Probably Connecticut River Valley, c. 1770-90
Item # 130309GZP24
A fine work of the American Chippendale period, this is a rare and gorgeous form. Termed by Wallace Nutting a "Sideboard Table", the form is more generally recognized as a "One Leaf Drop Leaf Table", a piece intended for display against the wall with it's exposed apron facing out. As such, the front two legs are highlighted with beautiful raised shells while the rear legs are unadorned. Crafted of what appears to be [not micro-analyzed] an American Black Walnut of well selected flowing grain, the top board and leaf both display a wonderful ribbing at the center surrounded by wide flowing veins; similarly in the apron and legs, the veins are large and run in distinct channels in a way that enhances the cabriole of the leg and does not distract from the scrolling scallop of the apron. While single leaf drop-leaf tables are predominantly found in Massachusetts, this table exhibits every indication of being of Connecticut craftsmanship with the distinct influence of Delaware River Valley tradition in it's construction and form. The sides of the apron are recessed, the inner edges of the leg posts being thumb molded and flanking the inset apron and knee returns, clearly reminiscent of Philadelphia treatment of this leg [see Kugelman, p. 136, fig 3.5 for a discussion of similar features on a dining table with East Windsor CT provenance and likely origin]. Likewise, the pinned tenon-mortise joinery in the frame and legs is borrowed from this region. The intensely scalloped apron exudes grace and liveliness with a repeating lobe flanked by a half step [for similar apron treatments see Kugelman, p. 88-91 - those documented of Wethersfield, Connecticut craftsmanship]. The purity of the craftsmanship is representative of a very accomplished artisan; every detail is perfected. Note the close up images of the underside of the returns; while usually these are left unfinished and roughed, these have clearly been finished to remove most of the rough chisel marks while the uneven nature of the hand carved surface is evident to the touch. The front knees are embellished with a rare fanned-shell carving over a bold and robust cabriole leg that matches the spirit of the apron. All four legs terminate in a tall ball grasped by long and thin talons, an surreal and highly distinctive rendering of this foot. A most similar claw is documented by Ward on a highboy from Preston, Connecticut with the similar treatment of the tendons, talons and ball [p. 273, fig 143a]. As part of a careful analysis of the table, we removed the base from the top. This top had been removed at one point during the 19th century, presumably due to some accident or damage that resulted in the front 2 5/8" strip of the top board being replaced. At that time, the pegs that fastened the top to the table were cut and screws were set in wells from beneath the table to secure the top; these screws are of mid 19th century circulation. We also removed the screws from one hinge [photographed in the slideshow], these screws being the original screws the table was crafted with. A few of the screws do appear to be replacements, though all follow the same holes. The oxidization patterns of the wood affirm that the quarter-round interior blocking is original and untouched, having been coated with a later gray substance. The frame is joined with a stretcher connecting the middle of the apron to the middle of the back with half-dovetails on both ends - this is original and untouched as well. The gate leg is affixed with wrought iron nails, the golden oak of the back rail hand dovetailed into the side of the apron in the typical manner. This is a fine and precious work of art with compelling form and highly interesting regional characteristics that will make it an excellent example for further study and research.
Dimensions: 28" high x 16 1/2" deep x 31 5/8" wide; 29 3/4" deep when opened
Condition Report: Top was removed at one point in the 19th Century, the front 2 5/8" being replaced at the same time the top was screwed to the frame (versus the original wooden pegging). Scratches and burns to the table top, these quite visible in the images of the top. A few plugged/patched knots, including a knot filled from beneath on the drop leaf, a patch at the hinge, a plug in the top and a diamond patch to the top. An overall warm golden tone to the surface, early and dry on the legs and frame with some later waxing to the tops: it is not the original finish, but does appear to be a somewhat early refinish with a nice warmth. Dings and abrasions (feet, leaves); a round plug on front left leg, probably hiding a screw that reinforced the leg at some point.
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Literature: American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University, Gerald Ward, p. 273 fig. 143a Connecticut Valley Furniture, Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800, Thomas Kugelman, p. 136 fig. 3.5 [leg craftsmanship]; p. 88-91 [apron scalloping]
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