Object Details

Attributed to Nicholas Bernard (Carver, d. 1789) and Martin Jugiez (Carver, d. 1815)
ca. 1770-1783
United States: Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
North American
wood; mahogany; marble
Overall: 30 1/4 in x 48 in x 26 in; 76.835 cm x 121.92 cm x 66.04 cm
Herbert Schiffer Antiques, Exton, Pennsylvania; to the Fine Arts Committee through purchase
Credit Line
Funds donated by Motorola Inc.
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number

Related Objects

Pair of Mahogany French-Upholstered Armchairs Made for Governor John Penn

Pair of Mahogany French-Upholstered Armchairs Made for Governor John Penn

Affleck, Thomas
ca. 1766
wood; mahogany; white oak

Object Essay

By the 1760s, the only designs for “Side Board Tables” published in England by Thomas Chippendale and Ince and Mayhew featured straight legs.1Chippendale, pls. LVI–LXI; Ince and Mayhew, pls. 11–12. In Philadelphia, however, pier tables were made with both straight and curved legs. The 1772 price list included both options; those with cabriole legs were almost double the cost of their straight-leg counterparts. A mahogany table like this one, with “Claw feet . . . Leaves on the knese [and] with Carved Moldings,” was the most expensive version at £5. One of the few forms priced only for mahogany, pier tables must have been as rare in the 18th century as surviving examples are today.2Weil, 189. Some Philadelphia pier tables with cabriole legs had dramatically curved frame rails, but a rectangular frame with plain rails, gadrooned moldings, and richly carved knees was also popular. Two examples similar to this one include a table at Winterthur that descended in the Norris family and another at the Baltimore Museum of Art.3Downs 1952, no. 359; Elder and Stokes, no. 108.

The carving on the knees of this table appears to be an example of the later work of Nicholas Bernard and Martin Jugiez.4I am indebted to Luke Beckerdite and Alan Miller for this observation. It has many of the details found on the Penn chair of ca. 1766 (see Acc. No. 76.20), particularly the leaves with large, rounded lobes and deep veining. In contrast to the chair, however, the pier table’s carving is much less dense. The paired S-scrolls on the legs have an attenuated quality accentuated by the uncarved space around them. The central foliate motif is greatly reduced in scale, and the S-scrolls flank a line of small, incised ovals that terminate in a small, carved flower. This delicate carving is characteristic of Philadelphia work of the 1770s, such as the plaster ceiling executed by James Clow in 1770 for Samuel Powel and the furniture made in 1775 by Thomas Tufft (ca. 1745–1788) for Richard Edwards (1744–1799).5 For an illustration of Clow’s ceiling, see Tatum, 91; for a discussion of the Tufft furniture, see Acc. No. 71.78.

The cross braces fitted within the table frame indicate that it was made to have a marble top; the present marble top is not original. Secondary woods have been replaced. 

David L. Barquist

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.