Side Table with Figural Legs, about 1826
Edward Priestley (1778–1837), Baltimore, Maryland (active 1802–37)
Mahogany (secondary woods: mahogany, oak, pine, and poplar), with gilt-brass and cut-glass knobs
43 7/8 in. high, 40 3/4 in. high (to table surface), 75 13/16 in. long, 27 11/16 in. deep
EXHIBITED: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 2001–02, Of the Newest Fashion: Masterpieces of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts, pp. 60 illus. in color detail of one mummy head, 61 illus. in color, 93 cat. 29
EX COLL.: sale 5370, Christie’s, New York, June 2, 1983, no. 194 illus., as Baltimore, 1820–30; to Mr. Fred Schwitz, Summerville, South Carolina, until 2001; to private collection, New York, until the present
Carved heads, such as those that ornament the present side table—bearded, mustachioed, and with Turkish or Middle Eastern headdresses with tassels—were referred to as “mummy heads” during the early nineteenth century, a generic term for heads ultimately drawn from sources inspired by Egyptian antiquity that became popular in England and France. Adaptations of “mummy heads” were published in Thomas Sheraton’s Cabinet Maker, Upholsterer and General Artist’s Encyclopedia (London, 1804) and later in Thomas Hope’s Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (London, 1807).