Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Secretary bookcase, 1795–1805
    Philadelphia
    Mahogany, mahogany and satinwood veneers, holly stringing and inlay, white pine, yellow pine, tulip poplar, and cedar; 8 ft. 10 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 1 1/2 in.
    Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1967 (67.203)

    This bookcase with a secretary, or writing compartment, in the top center drawer is based on a design by Thomas Shearer in the 1793 edition of The Cabinet-Makers' London Book of Prices. The unknown Philadelphia cabinetmaker responsible for the manufacture of this stylish yet highly functional piece of case furniture chose from several decorative options offered in the Shearer design. These include a range of drawers with inlaid elliptical panels over cupboards in the lower section, inlaid circular paterae in the corners of the cupboard doors, and a pediment with flat elliptical hollows, inlaid patera on each end, and a central inlaid fan. Providing options for customizing basic furniture forms to suit the fancies of furniture makers and their patrons was the intent of published patterns like Shearer's. It is rare, however, to find a surviving piece of American furniture that is so clearly reflective of this design process.

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    On view: Gallery 730
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  • Secretary bookcase, 1795–1805
    Philadelphia
    Mahogany, mahogany and satinwood veneers, holly stringing and inlay, white pine, yellow pine, tulip poplar, and cedar; 8 ft. 10 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 1 1/2 in.
    Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1967 (67.203)

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