Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

ca. 1790-1820
United States: Rhode Island: Providence
North American
wood; mahogany; mahogany veneer; yellow-poplar; eastern white pine; determa (ocotea rubra)
Overall: 28 3/4 in x 36 in x 16 1/2 in; 73.025 cm x 91.44 cm x 41.91 cm
Ginsburg & Levy, Inc., New York
Credit Line
Gift of The Wunsch Americana Foundation
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number

Related Objects

Federal Inlaid Mahogany Card Table

Federal Inlaid Mahogany Card Table

wood; mahogany; mahogany veneer; light- and dark-wood inlay; satinwood; eastern white pine; cherry; hickory

Object Essay

The research of Benjamin A. Hewitt strongly suggests that this table is a Providence product, and it is similar in many respects to another example in the Department of State’s collection (see Acc. No. 69.83). Both these tables are square with round corners (Hewitt’s shape 15), a shape found on twelve and a half percent of Providence tables in Hewitt’s study, but seldom elsewhere and for less than two percent of all tables in the study. The use of overlapping flyleg construction, one rear leaf-edge tenon, and other construction details also help confirm a Providence attribution.1Hewitt et al., no. 246, 181. See his chart III for the statistics on the use of shape 15 on straight-leg tables. Providence tables are discussed as a group in ibid., 148–52. I am grateful to Barbara McLean Ward for her assistance in identifying these Providence tales.

Some of the inlays used on the table are a less reliable guide to regional origin and may have led to the table’s previous attribution to New York City. The floral inlays on the pilasters (Hewitt, no. 107), for example, are also found on New York and Baltimore tables, and the zigzag-patterned inlay (Hewitt, no. 66), like many such inlays, was used on tables from New England south to Baltimore. The bellflowers on the legs are also somewhat similar to those found occasionally on New York objects. The inlaid eagle surmounted by a crescent of sixteen stars (Hewitt, no. 104) was encountered on this table alone, however, among the 374 examples of tables catalogued in Hewitt’s study.2The inlays are pictured in Hewitt et al., 75–76, and their distribution is discussed on pp. 184–86. See also Montgomery 1966, no. 324 (inlay no. 113), for related bellflowers.

Gerald W. R. Ward

Excerpted from Clement E. Conger, et al. Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991.