Sofa

about 1820
Possibly by Duncan Phyfe (American (born in Scotland), 1770–1854)


Object Place: New York, New York

Catalogue Raisonné

Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 124

Dimensions

86.36 x 193.7 x 59.1 cm (34 x 76 1/4 x 23 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

39.114

Medium or Technique

Mahogany, cherry, cane, modern upholstery

On View

C. Kevin and G. Barrie Landry Gallery (Gallery 126)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Seating and beds

Back: 3 panels of caned beneath rail with curved surface; carved with paired cornucopiae, wheat-ears, festooned drapery in low relief. Ends: panel of caning below rail similar to back; front support with reed-moulding sweeps into cross-legged supports. Seat: caned, front rail reed-moulded; rails mahogany, braces cherry. Legs: paired cross-legged supports, each with paw-foot terminals of brass; surfaces at front reed-moulded. Turned stretcher between front and back legs.


The base and S-curved legs of this sofa and the chairs, exhibited nearby, may be traced to the “sella curulis,” an ancient Roman folding stool that was a seat of honor for magistrates who presided over the Roman republic. During the Middle Ages, this chair was used by heads of state and church leaders; it reemerged in the mid-eighteenth century in Europe, with the start of Neoclassicism. The so-called curule form carried centuries of associations with the classical world, power, and leadership-all qualities highly valued in the new American republic.

Provenance

Early history unknown; purchased, probably at auction, for The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts and given to the Museum in 1939 (Accession Date January 12, 1939)

Credit Line

The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts