Récamier in the Neo-Classical Taste, about 1820
Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854), New York
Mahogany, partially gilded and painted verde antique (secondary woods: ash, mahogany, and poplar), with die-stamped gilt-brass mounts, bolster buttons, and castors, and die-stamped brass inlaid with ebony
32 in. high, 82 3/4 in. long, 24 1/2 in. deep
Tastefully ornamented with richly figured mahogany veneers, carved, gessoed, painted verde antique, and gilded elements, and die-stamped brass inlaid with ebony and gilt-brass mounts, this sofa ranks with the best of American Neo-Classical furniture of the period around 1815–20.
The sofa also features carved dolphins fronting the higher left arm and the lower right arm, which are identical to those on a group of Phyfe sofas, including examples in a New York private collection (photograph in Hirschl & Adler archives); another in a Connecticut private collection (formerly collection of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, FAPG 20428D; photograph in Hirschl & Adler archives); one in a Massachusetts private collection (formerly collection of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, FAPG 18204D; photograph in Hirschl & Adler archives), and one in the collection Gracie Mansion, New York (formerly collection of Hirschl & Adler Galleries, FAPG 8357.002; photograph in Hirschl & Adler archives), in all of which the dolphins are of exactly the same form as those on the present récamier. In some cases the scales of the dolphins are boldly carved, while in others the scales are more delicately executed in what appears to be a sgraffito technique like those on this récamier. All dolphins are variously gilded, and painted and bronzed to simulate the appearance of excavated bronze.