Provenance: New York State Senator Stephen Van Rensselaer III (1764-1839), to his son Stephen Van Rensselaer IV (1789-1868), to his daughter Justine Van Renesselaer Townsend (1828-1912), to her daughter Harriet Bayard Townsend Barber (1864-1942), to her son Thomas Hunt Barber (b. 1889), thence by descent to John F. Barber
This is the first server we have seen in over 30 years--either in the literature or on the market--that has marble columns as well as a marble backsplash and top slab. A related example attributed to Phyfe is illustrated in Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York, Peter Kenny. Another example with wooden backplash, which is much larger and not half the example this is, is illustrated in 19th Century America: Furniture and Other Decorative Arts, Berry B. Tracey. This piece is in impeccable condition with all original marble, and no breaks. Of special desirability is its small size (59 in.). Of interest is that it has raised panels on all sides, back included. We have wondered about this, and it is clear from a comparison of the central veneer of each panel that this was the way it was originally built, as 6 out of 8 of the panels are similar enough in figure to show that they are all cross sections of the same tree, and the other two panels (used on the fronts of both cabinets) are somewhat more vibrant selections that also match each other perfectly, suggesting that they were chosen from the most desirable area of the same original board. Basically, each of the side cabinets was benchmade by a craftsman who most likely had a regular custom of constructing raised panels on all sides, exhibiting a statement of great cabinetwork. Therefore, although the back is unlikely to be seen while in use, paneling it was a point of pride for the maker. There are no repairs or alterations. We have French polished the entire piece and it is a standout. The veneers are the best of figured mahogany with glowing, contrasting amber tones.
This is in every way a museum piece, or a piece de resistance for the connoisseur of classical furniture. We are proud to offer it.
Height: 49 in. Serving Height: 40 in. Depth: 22 3/4 in. Length: 59 in.