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Large walnut sideboard with two shelves, animal designs on doors, gryphons at top.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Large walnut sideboard with two shelves, animal designs on doors, gryphons at top.




Daniel Pabst (American, 1826–1910)

About this artwork

Marking the height of the “modern Gothic” style in Philadelphia, this sideboard resembles the furniture designed by notable architect Frank Furness, who frequently collaborated with cabinetmaker Daniel Pabst. Although details of the piece’s carving tie it unmistakably to Pabst, the design cannot be attributed conclusively to a particular hand. The designer was influenced by the writings of Christopher Dresser and Charles Eastlake, British reformers who advocated honesty of construction and conventionalized ornament. Instead of carving the decoration deeply in order to achieve a naturalistic effect, Pabst used a cameo technique, cutting through the burled elm veneer to reveal the darker walnut beneath and creating a striking color contrast and flattened style of decoration.

In the mid-nineteenth century, dining-room furniture typically featured ornament that was intended to reinforce ideals of hospitality and gentility. Here the cabinet doors display designs recounting Aesop’s fable of the fox and the stork, a tale in which each animal offers the other some food in a serving dish from which the guest cannot eat, thus proving the importance of true hospitality. The panels are virtually identical to images found on curtain designs illustrated in Eastlake’s 1868 book Hints on Household Taste, a text that was widely influential in the United States.


On View, Gallery 176


Arts of the Americas


Daniel Pabst (Maker)




Philadelphia (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1868–1880


Walnut and burled elm


256.5 × 185.4 × 62.2 cm (101 × 73 × 24 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Antiquarian Society

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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