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Sarah Neale Fayen
Tilt-Top Tables and Eighteenth-Century Consumerism

American Furniture 2003

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Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Tea table attributed to William Savery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1745–1755. Walnut. H. 29 5/8"; Diam. of top: 34 3/4". (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art; purchased with
    the Haas Community Fund and the J. Stodgell Stokes Fund.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Tea table, eastern Virginia, 1750–1770. Mahogany. H. 27 1/8"; Diam. of top: 32 3/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Joseph Highmore, Mr. B. Finds Pamela Writing, England, 1743–1744. Oil on canvas. 25 5/8" x 29 7/8". (Courtesy, Tate Gallery, London/Art Resource, N.Y.) This scene is based on Samuel Richardson’s popular novel, Pamela (1740). According to Charles Saumarez Smith, “Pamela is shown in a space which she is clearly able to treat as her own with writing implements on the table in front of her; but her private space is invaded by Mr. B.” The tilt-top table is clearly the central fixture in Pamela’s specifically feminine space.

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Gawen Hamilton, Family Group, England, ca. 1730. Oil on canvas. 28 1/2" x 35 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Tea table, probably Williamsburg, Virginia, 1710–1720. Walnut. H. 27 1/2", W. 26 1/2", D. 21 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.) This is one of the earliest tea tables from the colonial period. It has finely turned columnar legs and an edge molding nailed to the top rather than being set into a rabbet.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Joseph van Aken, An English Family at Tea, ca. 1720. Oil on canvas. 39" x 45 3/4". (Courtesy, Tate Gallery.) The rectangular tea table illustrated in this painting has an applied edge molding, shaped skirt, and angular cabriole legs.

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Tea table, possibly from the shop of Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1725–1740. Mahogany. H. 26 3/4", W. 29 1/2", D. 17 3/8". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Nicolaas Verkolje (1673–1746), Two Ladies and a Gentleman at Tea, 1715–1720. Dimensions not recorded. (© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London, www.vam.ac.uk) Art historian Peter Thornton notes that small oval tables like the one depicted in this scene were very popular in Holland. “Such forms often had a painted top which was hinged on a tripod pillar, so that when not in use, it could be placed close to the wall where it provided colorful decoration” (Authentic Décor: The Domestic Interior, 1720–1920 [New York: Viking, 1984], p. 79, no. 95).

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Tea table, Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, ca. 1720. Walnut and cherry. H. 27 1/8"; Diam. of top: 31 5/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Candle stand, Philadelphia, 1710–1720. Walnut. H. 28 7/8", W. 17 3/4", D. 16 3/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Tea table, Philadelphia, 1730–1740. Mahogany. H. 28"; Diam. of top: 29 1/4". (Courtesy, Philadelphia Museum of Art; gift of Lydia Thompson Morris.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Tea table with carving attributed to the shop of Samuel Harding, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1735–1745. Mahogany. H. 27"; Diam. of top: 31". (Courtesy, Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U. S. Department of State.)

     

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Tea table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1740–1750. Mahogany. H. 28 3/4"; Diam. of top: 32 13/16". (Courtesy, Robert E. Lee Memorial Association; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    View of the Dominy shop showing a table top mounted on a lathe. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) The Dominy family shop was located in East Hampton, Long Island.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Tea table, probably Norfolk, Virginia, 1760–1775. Mahogany. H. 28 3/4"; Diam. of top: 29 3/4". (Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.) This tea table probably represents the work of a cabinetmaker, a turner, and a carver.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Thomas Hayden drawing of a baluster for a tilt-top tea table, Windsor, Connecticut, 1787. Dimensions not recorded. Ink on paper. The Great River: Art and Society of the Connecticut Valley, 1635–1820, edited by Gerald W. R. Ward and William N. Hosley, Jr. (Hartford, Conn.: Wadsworth Atheneum of Art, 1985), p. 225.

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Tea table, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1770. Mahogany. H. 26 5/8"; Diam. of top: 31 7/8". (Photo, Israel Sack, Inc.)

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Detail of three balusters in Touro Synagogue, Newport, Rhode Island, ca. 1763. (Courtesy, Touro Synagogue; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Detail of a pendant in the George Wythe House, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1750–1755. (Redrawn from an original by Singleton Peabody Moorehead; courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Tea table, New York, 1760–1770. Mahogany. H. 29"; Diam. of top: 29". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Tea table, New York, 1760–1770. Mahogany. H. 29"; Diam. of top: 29". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Detail of the pillar of the tea table illustrated in fig. 20.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Detail of the pillar of the table illustrated in fig. 21.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Tea table with carving attributed to the shop of James Reynolds, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1766–1775. Mahogany. Dimensions not recorded. (Private collection; photo, Christie’s.)

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Tea table with carving attributed to Bernard and Jugiez, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1770–1775. Mahogany. H. 29 3/4"; Diam. of top: 31 1/2". (Courtesy, Dietrich American Foundation.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Tea table, probably Boston, Massachusetts, 1750–1765. Mahogany. H. 27 1/2"; Diam. of top: 36". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail showing the pillars on (from left to right): tea table, Boston or Salem, Massachusetts, 1760–1770; tea table, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1780; tea table, eastern Virginia, 1750–1770. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization; private collection, photo, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail showing the pillars on (from left to right): tea table, Massachusetts, 1750–1770; tea table, Newport, Rhode Island, 1755–1775; tea table, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1740–1755; tea table, eastern Virginia, 1750–1770. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, gift of Mrs. H. K. Estabrook, photo, David Bohl; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail showing the pillars on (from left to right): tea table by Theodosius Parsons, Windham, Connecticut, 1787–1793; tea table, Pennsylvania, 1760–1780; tea table, Norfolk, Virginia, 1765–1775. (Courtesy, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University Art Gallery; Winterthur Museum; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Tea table, Norfolk, Virginia 1765–1785. Mahogany. H. 29 1/2"; Diam. of top: 37". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Tea table by Theodosius Parsons, Windham, Conecticut, 1787–1793. Cherry. H. 27 3/8"; Diam. of top: 36 1/4". (Courtesy, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University Art Gallery.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Detail showing the scalloped tops on  (a) tea table, probably Connecticut, 1765–1785;  (b) tea table, New York, 1765–1785; (c) tea table, Philadelphia, 1765–1775; (d) tea table, Charleston, South Carolina, 1760–1770. (Courtesy, Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection; Chipstone Foundation; Winterthur Museum; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Detail showing the legs of (from left to right): tea table, Virginia, 1750–1770; tea table, Philadelphia, 1765–1775. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Tea table, Charleston, South Carolina, 1760–1770. Mahogany. H. 28 1/2"; Diam. of top: 31 1/4". (Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Tea table attributed to a member of the Chapin family, Hartford or East Windsor, Connecticut, 1775–1790. Cherry. H. 29 1/4"; Diam. of top: 31 1/4". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) Eliphalet Chapin (1741–1807) worked as a journeyman in Philadelphia in the 1760s. When he returned to his native Connecticut, he continued to use construction features, proportions, and decorative details common in Philadelphia. His work influenced his cabinetmaker family members, Amzi (1768–1835) and Aaron (1753–1838).

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Tea table, probably Newport, Rhode Island, 1750–1780. Mahogany. H. 28 1/4"; Diam. of top: 33". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Tea table, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1780. Mahogany. H. 27 1/2"; Diam. of top: 33 5/8". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.) Most Newport tea tables that appear to have been exported are relatively plain. It is doubtful that venture cargo shipments included elaborate examples like those occasionally made for Rhode Island patrons.

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Desk, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1770. Maple with chestnut and tulip poplar. H. 40 7/8", W. 38 3/8", D. 20 7/16". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Tea table, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1788. Walnut, maple, ash, and lightwood inlay. H. 27"; Diam. of top: 23 3/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Epergne by William Cripps, London, 1759/60. Silver. H. 15 3/4", L. 26 1/4", W. 26". (Courtesy, Colonial Wiliamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Robert West, Thomas Smith and His Family, Britain, 1733. Oil on canvas. 35 1/8" x 23 3/8". (Courtesy, National Trust Photographic Library/ Upton House, Beardstead Collection; photo, Angelo Hornak.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Designs for “Claw Tables” illustrated on plate 13 of the 1762 edition of William Ince and John Mayhew’s The Universal System of Household Furniture. (Courtesy, Winterthur Library: Printed Book and Periodical Collection.)

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Tea table, Philadelphia, 1765–1775. Mahogany. H. 28 1/2"; Diam. of top: 36 1/4". (Chipstone Foundation; photo Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

     Detail of the carving on the pillar of the tea table illustrated in fig. 43.

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Tea table attributed to the shop of Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1765–1775. Mahogany. H. 28"; Diam. of top: 31 1/4 ". (Collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Kettle stand attributed to the shop of Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1765–1775. Mahogany. H. 31 1/4"; Diam. of top: 21". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Detail of the top of the kettle stand illustrated in fig. 46.

  • Figure 48
    Figure 48

    Tea table with carving attributed to Bernard and Jugiez, ca. 1765. Mahogany. H. 28 3/8"; Diam. of top: 36". (Kaufman Americana Collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 49
    Figure 49

    Detail of a leg on the tea table illustrated in fig. 48.

  • Figure 50
    Figure 50

    Tea table, probably Charleston, South Carolina, 1765–1775. Mahogany. H. 28 3/8"; Diam. of top: 29 3/4". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 51
    Figure 51

    Detail of a leg on the tea table illustrated in fig. 50.

  • Figure 52
    Figure 52

    Similar creamware plates with different decorative treatment. (Left) probably Staffordshire, ca. 1775–1785; (right) possibly Leeds, ca. 1780–1790. (Courtesy, Audrey and Ivor Noël Hume; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)