Attributed to William King, Jr.
Georgetown, District of Columbia, 1815-1825
Mahogany with tulip poplar, black walnut,
and yellow pine
Catalog no. 42
much southern furniture displays damage like the previous objects, many pieces
are well preserved and offer eloquent testimony to the skills of artisans working
in the region. This elegant late classical sofa is a case in point. It is attributed
to the District of Columbia shop of William King, Jr. King emigrated from Ireland
as a child and later served an apprenticeship in Annapolis, Maryland. By 1795,
he moved to Georgetown, recently annexed from Maryland into the new federal
district. King's cabinetmaking firm remained in continuous operation there until
his death in 1854, an impressive run of fifty-nine years.
King's fashionable wares were held in high regard by Washingtonians. He received
a commissionprobably in 1817from the administration of President
James Monroe to replace furnishings destroyed by British troops during the War
of 1812. King was asked to make nearly thirty pieces of furniture for the recently
reconstructed White House.
Grecian sofas gained enormous popularity in America during the second
decade of the nineteenth century. Some were decorated and others were plain:
the King sofa. Most of its exposed frame is ornamented with simple reeding.
The crest rail features carved vines, foliage, and clusters of grapes set on
a punch-work ground, a motif widely employed on the most stylish furniture and
silver of the period.