An exceptionally fine New England Federal mahogany linen press with extensive inlay, possibly by William Lloyd, Springfield Massachusetts, circa 1795-1810
This truly outstanding American Federal mahogany inlaid linen press, circa 1795-1810, ranks as a masterpiece of form and design. While clothes-presses were relatively common in Federal American, as homes rarely had closets, case-pieces, such as this linen-press were rarely inlaid to the extent of other forms of furniture, such as card or Pembroke tables. Research has shown that most American clothes-presses were made in the Chesapeake colonies and south of Maryland. A notable group of clothes-presses were made in Charleston, South Carolina. The form also enjoyed popularity in Federal New York City.
The clothes-press presented here combines the best elements of design and form associated with the best Federal furniture made in American between 1785-1815. Although this clothes-press mas made in Massachusetts, it displays considerable influence, both in style, form, and construction, associated with New York City Federal furniture. The bold pediment is a slight derivation of a type common to a notable group of New York City case pieces, although this example lacks any pierced “fretwork”.The inverted “Prince-of-Wales” feather inlay featured in the center of the pediment was often employed on New York City Federal card and Pembroke tables. The delicately shaded urn or “kylix” inlay on the presses’ pediment is often associated with a number of case pieces made during the Federal era in Massachusetts, most particularly those known to have made by the workshop of William Lloyd, in Springfield, Massachusetts. It should be noted that the abundant use of intricate inlays shown on this clothes-press suggests that it was produced by a an advanced and highly-specialized cabinet-shop. Several case pieces with similar inlays, two of which bear the label of William Lloyd, of Springfield, Massachusetts, are known to exist.
CONDITION AND CONSTRUCTION: The clothes-press shown here survives in an excellent state of preservation. The pediment’s upper-section is constructed of solid mahogany; the lower section is constructed of white pine which is faced with veneered mahogany. The elliptical rosettes on the pediment’s tympanum are inlaid with a Neoclassical urn from which emanates floral details. The elliptical reserves on either side of the pediment are accented with rosebud paterae. The central raised panel found on the center of the pediment, or cornice, is inlaid with a very delicate “Prince-of-Wales” feather detail on which rests a Neoclassical urn. The entire facing of the cornice is heavily inlaid with geometric patterns of great detail. This clothes-press has two doors which are veneered with crotch mahogany of the highest grade and accented with further line and geometric inlays. These doors open to reveal four sliding “press” drawers which are constructed of white pine, which are both nailed and glued with white pine strips which are rabbeted into the case’s sides, which are constructed of solid mahogany. The lower case features four drawers, each of which are constructed entirely of white pine, which is veneered with crotch mahogany and adorned with a two-line inlay. The two lower doors are “book-matched” with crotch mahogany. The front “spade” feet are feature a triangular reserve of a light-colored inlay, presumed to be maple. This distinctive foot is a slight derivation of a design often found on documented case pieces from the cabinet-shop of John and Thomas Seymour. The presses’ back is constructed of horizontal backboards, which are nailed into the frame. Other than the finish, which has been professionally conserved in a first-class manner, the piece has no major repairs or restorations.
MATERIALS: Mahogany, mahogany veneers, white pine, maple, tulip-poplar, walnut, cidrella, various light-colored woods utilized for the inlays, brass, steel, and iron.
DIMENSIONS: Height: 91″, Width: 46 3/4″, Depth: 23 1/2″.
INSCRIPTIONS: A chalk inscription “M” appears on the pediment’s rear rail.
SOLD TO A CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA COLLECTOR
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