AMERICAN CHIPPENDALE BALL AND CLAW CONSOLE TABLE
Probably Connecticut River Valley, c. 1770-90
Item # 130309GZP24
A fine work of the American Chippendale period, this form is intended for display against the wall with it's exposed apron facing out. As such, the front two legs are highlighted with beautiful raised shells while the rear legs are unadorned. Crafted of what appears to be [not micro-analyzed] an American Black Walnut of well selected flowing grain, the top board and leaf both display a wonderful ribbing at the center surrounded by wide flowing veins; similarly in the apron and legs, the veins are large and run in distinct channels in a way that enhances the cabriole of the leg and does not distract from the scrolling scallop of the apron.
While single leaf drop-leaf tables are predominantly found in Massachusetts, this table exhibits every indication of being of Connecticut craftsmanship with the distinct influence of Delaware River Valley tradition in it's construction and form. The sides of the apron are recessed, the inner edges of the leg posts being thumb molded and flanking the inset apron and knee returns, clearly reminiscent of Philadelphia treatment of this leg [see Kugelman, p. 136, fig 3.5 for a discussion of similar features on a dining table with East Windsor CT provenance and likely origin]. Likewise, the pinned tenon-mortise joinery in the frame and legs is borrowed from this region. The intensely scalloped apron exudes grace and liveliness with a repeating lobe flanked by a half step [for similar apron treatments see Kugelman, p. 88-91 - those documented of Wethersfield, Connecticut craftsmanship]. The purity of the craftsmanship is representative of a very accomplished artisan; every detail is perfected. Note the close up images of the underside of the returns; while usually these are left unfinished and roughed, these have clearly been finished to remove most of the rough chisel marks while the uneven nature of the hand carved surface is evident to the touch. The front knees are embellished with a rare fanned-shell carving over a bold and robust cabriole leg that matches the spirit of the apron. All four legs terminate in a tall ball grasped by long and thin talons, an surreal and highly distinctive rendering of this foot. A most similar claw is documented by Ward on a highboy from Preston, Connecticut with the similar treatment of the tendons, talons and ball [p. 273, fig 143a].
The frame is joined with a stretcher connecting the middle of the apron to the middle of the back with half-dovetails on both ends. The gate leg is affixed with wrought iron nails, the golden oak of the back rail hand dovetailed into the side of the apron in the typical manner.
This is a most interesting work with a compelling form and highly interesting regional characteristics.
- American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University, Gerald Ward, p. 273 fig. 143a
- Connecticut Valley Furniture, Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800, Thomas Kugelman, p. 136 fig. 3.5 [leg craftsmanship]; p. 88-91 [apron scalloping]
Measurements: 28" high x 16 1/2" deep x 31 5/8" wide; 29 3/4" deep when opened
Top is probably replaced, having some fading/burns/scratches/patching. Refinished, early and dry finish on the legs and frame. A round plug on front left leg, probably hiding a screw that reinforced the leg at some point.