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Pier Table

Kennedy, Samuel
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –satinwood –poplar –pine
HOA: 39 1/2; WOA: 40 3/4; DOA: 19
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Inlaid pier table with ovolo corners and five eglomise panels painted gold with a white background; D-shaped top with inlaid cross banded borders (the outer border trimmed); conforming frame with projecting central section consisting of inlaid bordered end panels flanking satinwood bordered eglomise center of gilded harp design surrounded by acorns and branches, signed “Kennedy” in lower right; eglomise side panels of female figure symbolizing Independence with liberty cap on staff, inscribed Kennedy; bowed sides with rectangular inlaid panels and crossbanded borders; side ends of similar design centering stiles with eglomise female figures; four squared tapered legs with satinwood upper mounting, satinwood inlaid bellflowers continuing to cuffed feet; the feet are restored to include bottom band of inlay; ebony inlays.

FORM: George Hepplewhite suggests that pier tables “became an article of much fashion and not being applied to such general use as other tables, admit with great propriety, or much elegance and ornament.” He also noted that “the height of Pier Tables varies from the general rule, as they are now universally made to fit the pier, and rise level with or above the dado of the room, nearly touching the ornaments of the glass: if the latter, the top fits close to the wall.” Thomas Sheraton defines a pier as “that part of the wall which is between the windows” and concludes “hence the term pier table, in cabinet work, which are made to fit in between the architraves of the windows, and rise above the surbase.”

The London Cabinet Maker’s Union Book of Prices illustrates the shape of this table and suggests that it can be fitted with two or three legs at each end. This is further spoken of in The Journeymen Cabinet and Chairmakers Philadelphia Book of Prices for 1795, which speaks of a “pier table with ovolo corners,” and that “two extra legs” were offered as an option. Winterthur has a similar example with six legs. It is the same height as the MESDA table, but is six inches wider. This pier table is ornamented with typical Baltimore devices such as reverse painted glass panels (eglomise), inlaid bellflowers within panels down the legs, and the shape of the bellflowers themselves, in three parts with elongated center petals.

Credit Line:
Lent by the Kaufman Americana Foundation