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The James Beekman Chippendale Carved Mahogany Chest of...
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The James Beekman Chippendale Carved Mahogany Chest of Drawers\nshop of Thomas Brookman\n\ncarving attributed to Henry Hardcastle\nNew York, circa 1752\n\nh. 33 5/8 in.; w. 35 in. (case at front); w. 31 1/2 in. (case at rear); w. 37 in. (top at front); w. 33 1/2 in. (top at rear); d. 21 3/8 in. (top)\n\nWith its sterling provenance, remarkable condition, exceptional\ncarving, and sculptural form, this previously unrecorded chest of\ndrawers stands as an icon of American furniture as well as one of\nthe most important examples of New York colonial furniture to\never come on the marketplace. It was originally owned by James\nBeekman (1732-1807), the successful New York dry goods merchant\nand scion of the socially, politically, and economically prominent\nBeekman family.i His extant account books indicate that he acquired\na quantity of furniture soon after his marriage to Jane Keteltas\nBeekman (1734-1817) in October 1752 from Thomas Brookman, a\nNew York cabinetmaker.ii This chest is possibly the one purchased from Brookman on November 15, 1752 for the exorbitant\nsum of £16, with carving probably accounting for a majority of the\nprice.iii Beekman purchased a bureau costing £7 from Brookman at the same time and a dozen black walnut chairs, a\nmahogany tea table and a mahogany dining table\nfor £28 from Brookman four months later. This\nchest has descended directly through successive\ngenerations of James and Jane Beekman's family\nuntil the present time and has never been exhibited\nor published. The chest has survived for 258 years in\na remarkable state of preservation, retaining an old\nsurface, original floral painted canvas affixed to the\nslide, original openwork brasses, and nearly all of its\noriginal elements.\n\nsecondary wood poplar drawer sides, bottom and back, oak runners, gumwood backboard\n\nOther Notes: With its sterling provenance, remarkable condition, exceptional carving, and sculptural form, this previously unrecorded chest of drawers stands as an icon of American furniture as well as one of the most important examples of New York colonial furniture to ever come on the marketplace. It was originally owned by James Beekman (1732-1807), the successful New York dry goods merchant and scion of the socially, politically, and economically prominent Beekman family. His extant account books indicate that he acquired a quantity of furniture soon after his marriage to Jane Keteltas Beekman (1734-1817) in October 1752 from Thomas Brookman, a New York cabinetmaker. This chest is possibly the one purchased from Brookman on November 15, 1752 for the exorbitant sum of £16, with carving probably accounting for a majority of the price. Beekman purchased a bureau costing £7 from Brookman at the same time and a dozen black walnut chairs, a mahogany tea table and a mahogany dining table for £28 from Brookman four months later. This chest has descended directly through successive generations of James and Jane Beekman's family until the present time and has never been exhibited or published. The chest has survived for 258 years in a remarkable state of preservation, retaining an old surface, original floral painted canvas affixed to the slide, original openwork brasses, and nearly all of its original elements.\n\nWith James Beekman as a client, Thomas Brookman undoubtedly operated one of the most successful cabinet shops in New York in the mid-eighteenth century yet very little is known about his career today. He was admitted as a freeman on April 10, 1743-44 as a carpenter. He fulfilled commissions for other prominent patrons, including Sir William Johnson (1715-1774), the Irish-born entrepreneur, politician, and British superintendent of Indian Affairs for North America. On October 12, 1763, Johnson's manuscripts record "Thomas Brookman, a cabinetmaker, about eight cases of furniture put on board of Capt. Marsealus's boat for Johnson." The furniture was likely being transported to Johnson Hall, the house Sir William Johnson had built in 1763 outside Johnstown, the town he founded west of Schenectady on the Mohawk River. On April 1, 1774, Thomas Brookman served as a witness to the will of Josiah Smith of New York, late mariner. On December 9, 1776, he advertised for a run-away slave in the New-York Gazette, stating that he would pay the reward "at Mr. Nicholl's near Market." In letter written in New York on July 29, 1780 to Brigadier General Skinner, General Pattison stated that the testimony gathered during an inquiry into Thomas Brookman suggested "there is no reason to suspect his want of Loyalty, or intention to trade with the Rebels" and that "the goods which were taken from him by Lieutenant Hislop to be restored." On April 15, 1782, Thomas Brookman, joiner, advertised items for sale in the New-York Gazette, along with John & Charles Doughty and Thomas Doughty, merchant, all of New York City.\n\nServing as testament to Brookman's skill as a cabinetmaker, this sophisticated chest appears to be one of only three extant pieces that can be associated with his shop tradition. Dating to circa 1752, it bears additional distinction as one of the earliest pieces of Rococo style furniture that survives from New York. The chest follows the taste in New York for high style architectonic furniture with elaborate, though contained, ornamentation. Its ambitious design inspired by Baroque commode case furniture popular in England from the 1740s was cutting edge for the time as it predated Chippendale's Director by two years. It exemplifies the height of the Rococo style in London with its serpentine façade, overhanging top with ogee-molding and leaf-carved edges, pull-out writing slide covered with a floral painted canvas, stop fluted canted corners, gadrooned skirt molding, acanthus-carved ogee bracket feet, and openwork brasses.\n\nIn fashioning the chest, Brookman successfully integrated the form with the ornamentation. He selected a high quality mahogany with vibrant figuring, to emphasize the dramatic serpentine shaping of the façade, which he further accentuated with openwork brasses. He carefully conceived the placement of the carving in order to maximize the rich effect. Brookman used several construction characteristics that are distinctive. He cut drawers from the solid and shaped them on the inside. He chamfered the poplar dust boards on their undersides and rabbetted them into the backside of the drawer divider and into the oak runners that are screwed (with original screws) into the sides of the case. He attached the gadrooned molding directly to the case with screws. He laminated the feet at the center, down the middle of the leaf, and supported them with large vertical glue blocks that were shaped with gouges and nailed to the bottom of the case.\n\nThomas Brookman appears to have contracted the highly talented New York immigrant craftsman, Henry Hardcastle (fl. ca. 1750-ca. 1756), to execute this chest's lavish carving, for it directly relates to Hardcastle's documented work at Philipse Manor, in Yonkers, New York. Likely British-trained in the 1730s-1740s and admitted as a Freeman in New York in 1751, Hardcastle was commissioned by Frederick Philipse III, the third lord of Philipse Manor, for all of the ornate architectural carving for the house. His bold and naturalistic carving displayed on the first and second floor chimneypieces was inspired by stone carving in British Palladian interiors of the 1720s-1740s. Flanked by engaged stop-fluted columns and doors with classical entablatures, the first floor chimneypiece displays a compressed broken-scroll pediment with bold floral rosettes, carved moldings and frets, and a swelled oak-leaf frieze centering a tablet of Diana. The second floor chimneypiece is comprised of a pitched pediment, a carved frieze appliqué and central ornaments flanked by fluted pilasters and doors also conceived with pitched pediments, carved frieze appliqués, and central ornaments. Elements of this carving are considered to be among the earliest manifestations of the Rococo style in America.\n\nIn his article "Origins of the Rococo Style in New York Furniture and Interior Architecture," published in American Furniture in 1993, Luke Beckerdite notes the following characteristics for Hardcastle's architectural and furniture carving: acanthus leaves outlined and modeled with deep vertical cuts made with large flat gouges to create strong shadow lines and multiple levels that simplified the shading process; rosettes rendered with four small petals closed in the center, three large convex petals with deeply fluted veined depressions, and flat half-petals in the background; roses with laminated centers and flat, overlapping petals that were shaded with short gouge cuts made within larger flutes; veining and shading executed with a very small gouge or veiner to cut shallow diverging flutes on the small flat leaves and grape leaves; broad and flat gadrooning with precisely cut fillets terminating with a gouge cut just short of the molding edge; naturalistic and botanically accurate grape leaves, fruit, and large blooms; use of diverging and converging flutes to shade the large acanthus leaves; and occasional use of perpendicular fluting on curled leaf ends and broad convex surfaces. Hardcastle was consistent in his work, typically executing leaves with similar profiles, veining flutes, and perpendicular crosscuts in the same context, and favoring use of the same tools.\n\nTwo additional case pieces are known that appear to represent the collaborative effort of Thomas Brookman and Henry Hardcastle. Like the present chest, both are supreme examples of New York colonial furniture with construction and carving of the highest caliber. A mahogany chest of drawers at Winterthur Museum with a history in the Van Rensselaer family is virtually identical in design to the Beekman chest. Diminutive in proportion and made of high quality vibrantly figured mahogany, both pieces follow the same form, with a serpentine façade, projecting canted and stop-fluted corners, a gadrooned skirt molding attached directly to the case, flat-carved moldings and acanthus-carved ogee bracket feet, although the Beekman chest has slightly more complex stop-fluting as well as gadrooning on the case sides and carved rear feet. The Van Rensselaer chest also displays a case and foot construction that matches the Beekman chest. A mahogany desk-and-bookcase in the collection of the Chipstone Foundation has very closely related flat-carved moldings, gadrooning affixed to the case, and very similar yet simpler carved ogee feet. It mirrors many design and execution attributes of the carving found on the first floor parlor chimneypiece at Philipse Manor in the low broken-scroll pediment, trilobate rosettes, intricate moldings, grape leaves with similar veining, and fruit with similar modeling. In addition, the desk displays construction consistent with the Beekman chest in the dustboards with chamfered undersides set into the drawer dividers and runners nailed to the sides and the distinctive acanthus-carved ogee feet.\n\nAlthough Henry Hardcastle's career in New York was brief ? he moved to Charleston, S.C. after July 1755 and died there in October of 1756 ? his shop traditions continued through the craftsmen he trained. James Beekman continued to patronize those craftsmen. Stephen Dwight (fl. ca. 1755-1774), Hardcastle's only known apprentice, was commissioned by Beekman to carve the picture frames for the portraits of him and his wife painted by Lawrence Kilburn in 1762. Today the frames represent the only known carving that can be documented to Dwight's shop. On March 11, 1762, Beekman paid Dwight £11.10.00 for the frames and 8s for "carving four flowers for my New Roome," the latter likely architectural appliqués for the house on Queen Street that Beekman purchased in 1760.\n\nIn 1764, James and Jane Beekman built Mount Pleasant, their elegant country house at which is now Beekman Place, overlooking the East River at 51st Street in New York. For that house, Beekman commissioned a chimneypiece patterned after the one carved by Hardcastle for the first-floor parlor of Philipse Manor. A carver familiar with Hardcastle's shop practice, perhaps Stephen Dwight, likely executed the Mount Pleasant chimneypiece for it copies design elements found on the Philipse Manor example ? such as the compressed broken-scroll pediment, the pulvinated frieze, and the architrave with scrolling fretwork and shallow-carved leaves. In addition, the crossette appliqués on the Beekman chimneypiece closely follow the rosettes on the chimneypiece in the first-floor parlor of Philipse Manor and were similarly executed with broad convex petals with deeply fluted and veined depressions and flat half-petals in the background.\n\nOther pieces with carving linked to Hardcastle's hand include a mahogany bedstead in the collection of Historic New England, a mahogany card table at Chipstone with a history of descent in the Vreeland and Gautier families of New Jersey and New York,and a pair of mahogany footposts at Chipstone. Aside from the Beekman chest, the Van Rensselaer chest, and the Chipstone desk, no other extant furniture associated with Thomas Brookman has been identified to date.\n\nThis sale offers a unique opportunity to acquire an extremely rare and early masterpiece of Rococo style furniture from New York, surviving in a remarkable state of preservation and with a direct history of descent from James and Jane Beekman. Keno Auctions is honored to offer for sale a chest of this importance representing the collaboration of two pioneers of the Rococo style in New York ? Thomas Brookman and Henry Hardcastle. As the Beekman chest attests, their high level of workmanship was rarely equaled in Colonial America.\n\nProvenance:\nOriginally owned by James Beekman (1732-1807) and his wife Jane Keteltas Beekman (1734-1817), who married in 1752 and built a large country house, "Mount Pleasant;"\nTo their daughter Cornelia Beekman (1770-1847), who married Isaac B. Cox (d. 1846) in 1805 or to their daughter Catherine (Sanders) Beekman (1762-1839), who died without issue;\nTo their daughter or her niece, Catherine Mary Cox (1826-1871), who married Jacob Glen Sanders (1789-1867) in 1847;\nTo their son Jacob Glen Sanders (b. 1850), who married Jane Ten Eyck in 1870;\nTo their daughter Katherine Mary Sanders (b. 1881), who married Sheafe Coffin Rose in 1907;\nTo their son, George Sheafe Rose (b. 1907);\nThence by descent to present owners.
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*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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