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Sumpter Priddy III, J. Michael Flanigan, and Gregory R. Weidman
The Genesis of Neoclassical Style in Baltimore Furniture

American Furniture 2000

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Daniel Bowley, Esq., Baltimore in 1752, From a Sketch Made by John Moale, Esq., Baltimore, Maryland, 1817. Aquatint. 19 1/2" x 29". (Courtesy, Old Salem Inc; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Chest of drawers attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany, maple, and satinwood veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 34 3/4", W. 40 1/2", D. 22 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Chest of drawers attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany, maple, and satinwood veneer with tulip poplar, white pine, and yellow pine. H. 36 1/4", W. 39 1/4", D. 22 1/8". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The inlay woods used by this shop include mahogany, maple, satinwood, rosewood, tulip poplar, and boxwood.

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Secretaire à abattant attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 63 1/4", W. 40 3/8", D. 17 1/4". (Courtesy, Chrysler Museum of Art, Moses Myers House; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Writing table and bookcase attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 83 1/4", W. 40 1/2", D. 24". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) This writing table and bookcase reportedly descended from Nicholas Rodgers of Druid Hill in Baltimore.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Writing table and bookcase attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 83", W. 41 1/2", D. 24". (Private collection, location unknown.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 37 1/2", W. 76 1/2", D. 25 3/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 39 1/2", W. 79", D. 26". (Private collection, location unknown.) The shells on the upper leg stiles are exceptionally large.

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Design for a “Commode Dressing Table” illustrated on plate 77 of George Hepplewhite’s Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) The second and third editions of Hepplewhite’s design book appeared in 1789 and 1794, respectively.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Design for a “Tambour Writing Table and Bookcase” illustrated on plate 69 of George Hepplewhite’s Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Design for a “Side Board” illustrated on plate 30 of George Hepplewhite’s Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Design for a “Serpetine Front Celleret Sideboard” illustrated on plate 4 of the Society of Upholsterers’ Cabinet-Makers’ London Book of Prices (1788). (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.) The second and third editions of this publication appeared in 1793 and 1803, respectively. George Shearer provided the design for this sideboard.

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Chest of drawers attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 35 7/8", W. 37 1/8", D. 20 3/4". (Collection of Stiles Tuttle Colwill; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the inlay on the skirt of the chest illustrated in fig. 13. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) Although the grotesque is extremely graphic, it is comprised of a small number of individual pieces. Its visual complexity is the result of careful shading with hot sand. Using this technique, the inlay maker gave the grotesque’s forehead, ears, eyes, and cheeks a three-dimensional quality rarely seen in American inlay.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of the inlaid husk on the left foot of the chest illustrated in fig. 13. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The husks are made in three pieces. The components on either side of the shaded central spine were stacked and then sawn to shape, rather than being cut out individually. The shaded central spine dividing each half is a separate piece. Numerous variations of this design occur on other pieces attributed to Bankson and Lawson.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of the inlay on the drawers of the chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Detail of the case construction of the chest illustrated in fig. 2. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Detail of the base and foot construction of the chest illustrated in fig. 2. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 86", W. 41 1/2", D. 21 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Charles Peale Polk, Richard Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1794. Oil on canvas. 37 1/2" x 33 1/2". (Courtesy, Maryland Historical Society.) The painting is signed and dated on the reverse: “Chas. P. Polk pinxt Baltimore, Maryland, November, 1794. Richard Lawson, son of Stephen and Agnes Lawson, born 25 December 1749 at Keigby, Yorkshire, England.”

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Desk-and-bookcase, probably coastal South Carolina, ca. 1790. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with cypress. H. 96 1/4", W. 41 1/4", D. 21 1/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Detail of the inlay on the pediment of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 21. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Secretary-and-bookcase, Charleston, South Carolina, c. 1790. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with pine. Dimensions not recorded. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail of the inlay on the frieze of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 21. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the eagle inlay on the fallboard of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 19. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 89", W. 42 1/2", D. 20 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Joel Breger.) The mullion arrangement on the bookcase appears related to that of a “Secretary and Bookcase” illustrated on plate 43 of George Hepplewhite’s Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788).

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of the stag and hound inlay on the cylinder of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 26.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Desk attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 44 1/2", W. 42 1/2", D. 20 1/2". (Courtesy, Sack Heritage Group.) www.sackheritagegroup.com

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Clothespress with secretary drawer attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. The current location of this piece is not known. It was illustrated in Parke-Bernet Galleries, The William Randolph Hearst Collection, New York, November 17, 1938, lot 385.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail of the right inlaid capital of the secretaire à abattant illustrated in fig. 4. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of the inlay on the skirt on the secretaire à abattant illustrated in fig. 4. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 39 1/4", W. 58 7/8", D. 25 1/4". (Courtesy, Baltimore Museum of Art; purchased as the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth S. Battye.) The brasses are replaced.

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 40 1/4", W. 69 1/2", D. 26". (Private collection; photo, Sotheby’s.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 37 1/2", W. 69 1/2", D. 27 1/2". (Courtesy, Sack Heritage Group.) www.sackheritagegroup.com

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Sideboard attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785–1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 40 1/2", W. 72 3/8", D. 27 7/8". (Courtesy, Diplomatic Reception Rooms, United States Department of State; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Taradash.)

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Tall clock case by William Patterson, Baltimore, Maryland, ca. 1797. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 90", W. 21 1/8", D. 9 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The case has an eight-day movement by Baltimore clockmakers Mountjoy and Welsh (w. 1797).

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Detail of the label on the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 36. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Detail of the inlay on the waist door of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 36. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Detail of the shell on the plinth of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 36. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Tall clock case with eight-day movement by William Thompson, Baltimore, Maryland, ca. 1794. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 98 1/4", W. 22 1/2", D. 11 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Jeff Goldman.) The tympanum, scroll moldings, and feet are replaced. The original feet were almost certainly ogee in form.

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Tall clock case with eight-day movement by William Elvins, Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1800. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 96 1/2", W. 19 1/2", D. 10 3/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Detail of the hood of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 41. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Tall clock case, Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1800. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 102 1/2", W. 20", D. 10". (Private collection; courtesy, Israel Sack, Inc.)

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Detail of the oriole inlay on the pediment of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 43.

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Tall clock case, possibly Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1805. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 104 1/2", W. 21 1/2", D. 10". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Detail of the hood of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 45. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Detail of the inlay on the plinth of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 45. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 48
    Figure 48

    Detail of the inlay on waist door of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 45. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 49
    Figure 49

    Secretaire à abattant attributed to Bankson and Lawson, Baltimore, Maryland, ca. 1792. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar. H. 82", W. 37", D. 17 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Jeff Goldman.)

  • Figure 50
    Figure 50

    Detail of the figural inlay on a front stile of the secretaire à abattant illustrated in fig. 49. The maker of this inlay was occasionally indifferent to anatomy. The feet of the utist are brought to a point like the toes of the bird and animal inlays shown in figs. 25, 27, and 44.

  • Figure 51
    Figure 51

    Card table (one of a pair), Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1800. Mahogany and mahogany veneer with tulip poplar, yellow pine, and oak. Dimensions not recorded. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The undersides of the tops are inscribed “P Lightfoot/ Port Royal.”

  • Figure 52
    Figure 52

    Detail of the lily inlay on the card table illustrated in fig. 50. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 53
    Figure 53

    Side chair, Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1800. Mahogany with maple and tulip poplar. H. 38", W. 19 7/8", D. 18 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 54
    Figure 54

    Detail of the vine inlay on the back of the side chair illustrated in fig. 53.

  • Figure 55
    Figure 55

    Detail of the vine inlay on the card table illustrated in fig. 51. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 56
    Figure 56

    Side chair, Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1805. Mahogany with tulip poplar. H. 37 3/4", W. 20 1/4", D. 17 1/2". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 57
    Figure 57

    Side chair, Baltimore, Maryland, 1795–1805. H. 37 1/4". Mahogany; secondary woods not recorded. (Courtesy,Old Salem Inc; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)