Cylinder Desk and Bookcase

Maker: Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854)

Date: 1815–20

Geography: Made in New York, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Mahogany, mahogany veneer, satinwood, gilded
gesso with yellow poplar, white pine

Dimensions: 95 3/8 x 48 1/8 x 24 in. (242.3 x 122.2 x 61 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, in memory of Berry B. Tracy, 1985

Accession Number: 1985.236a, b


Without a label, signature, or stamp to identify the maker, curators cannot be completely certain which cabinetmaker made a particular object. However, through the process of attributing a piece of furniture, they can tentatively associate the work with a specific shop tradition based on aspects of design, materials, and construction techniques. The exacting craftsmanship, first-quality woods, and sleek interpretation of the English Regency style found in this desk and bookcase suggest Phyfe's manufactory. Furthermore, the spiral-fluted ellipsoids above the tapered legs are found on a labeled Phyfe worktable in the Winterthur Museum collection. Such links to marked works help to reinforce an attribution.