Sideboard

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

Date:

1868/80

Artist:

Daniel Pabst
American, 1826–1910
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

American Art, Gallery 176

Artist

Daniel Pabst

Title

Sideboard

Origin

United States

Date

1868–1880

Medium

Walnut and burled elm

Dimensions

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

Credit Line

Gift of the Antiquarian Society

Reference Number

2005.51

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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