Rare Carved Classical Sofa with Chinese Chippendale Feet, Salem
This sofa is one of a grouping of highly carved Salem sofas which exhibits a rare Chinese Chippendale foot. At first look, one would assume the leg is a cut-down reshaped foot from the standard Classical saber leg that is found on many of the sofas in this group. (See images #9 & #10 to see a scan from Israel Sack's American Antiques vol. IV for an example of the standard form, and to see that leg superimposed on the leg from our example .) Clearly, this leg could never have been reshaped from the standard leg, as, in certain dimensions, this leg is much wider than the standard form. And further, upon analysis, it is clear that this is the original form as it retains its first surface and early punchwork and acanthus carved embellishment, et al. Note, it came to us without its current casters, but with old glides, and we have replaced these with proper casters. No other repairs or restorations whatsoever have been made to the body or surface except reupholstering.
This sofa form occurs at the end of the Classical period, the work of Samuel Field McIntyre, the son of the famous Samuel McIntyre, woodcarver and architect in Salem. The carving on the crest with its exuberant basket and vine carving is a visual treat. Also, it retains its original bronze mount. Above the legs are finely carved panels which many examples lack. This is a rare example and is deaccessioned from the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH, in a liquidation of furniture that is no longer responsive to their Mission.