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This exuberant sideboard is related
to a grouping of furniture which, until recently,
was attributed to Joseph B. Barry or William Camp,
i.e. Camp is attributed as a maker to a related example
illustrated in Classical
1815-1845, fig.164, Gregory Weidman.
Current scholarship points to still
another cabinetmaker, Edward Priestley, who also worked
in Baltimore during this time. Research presented
in an article, A New Suspect: Baltimore Cabinet
Furniture Maker Edward Preistley
Alevizatos Kirtley in American Furniture 2000
(ed. Luke Beckerdite) reveals Priestley as a possible
source. The notable feature in this grouping of furniture
is the dramatic mummy heads (Persians) which are taken
from illustrations of Bacchus on plates 37 & 57
in Thomas Hope’s Household Furniture and Interior
Two related sideboards, one with carved
figures, and one without, are illustrated in Classical
Taste in America
, by Wendy Cooper, and American Furniture, ed. Luke Beckerdite . Interestingly, the latter
example appears to match ours in many respects with
the most noticeable exceptions being the length og
the feet and central arched door. The feet in fig.
24 were possibly reduced somewhat or were just constructed
this way for a lower serving height.
Attribution aside, this sideboard is
a tour de force of the cabinetmaker’s skill,
even down to the backboards, which are mortised into
the solid mahogany sides of the casepiece in the Newport
style. The brasses are probably original and retain
an old dark surface, which has been overlaid many
times through the years. This sideboard, in scale
and size, is monumental, it needs four men to lift
it. Having four well-developed caryatids with sandled
feet, no less, makes this sideboard, we feel, one
of the finest of the early 19th century. As Kirtley
puts it "Priestley’s dramatic mummy heads
represent one of the most expressive and highly developed
manifestations of the late neoclassical style in American
A side table with related figural carving
brought more than $98,000 at Sotheby's Important Americana
sale, January 18th & 19th, 2001.
Height: 47 1/2in. Width: 78 1/2in. Depth: 26in.