Displaying inventive design and accomplished craftsmanship, this candlestand is part of the recognizable oeuvre of Nathan Lombard (1777-1847), a cabinetmaker who worked in central Massachusetts during the early nineteenth century. The attribution is based upon the top's unusual urn-and-floral inlay that is seen on several other items, one of which, a desk-and-bookcase at Winterthur (fig. 1), has distinctive inlaid bracket feet identical to those on a chest-of-drawers signed by Lombard (Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce, "Sophistication in Rural Massachusetts: The Inlaid Cherry Furniture of Nathan Lombard," American Furniture 1998, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, 1998), p. 168, fig. 5). Serving as the "rosetta stone" for Lombard's authorship, this chest is the only known signed piece and until its discovery in 1987, the group's origins were thought to have been Connecticut or Rhode Island. Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce identified Lombard as the maker of approximately forty surviving forms that, taken together, indicate that "Lombard was a clever and imaginative artisan who produced useful and often flamboyant pieces for a prosperous rural clientele" (Jobe and Pearce, p. 170).
Nathan Lombard was born in Brimfield, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph (1747-1825) and Mary (Faulkner) (1746-1824) Lombard. It is not known where or under whom he trained, but he was most likely working on his own by the age of twenty-one. In 1802, he married Delight Allen (1777-1869) and by the following year, the couple were residing in Sutton, Massachusetts, a fast-growing town located forty miles west of Boston and along the main thoroughfare between Worcester and Providence. His business appears to have succeeded early on as in 1805 he advertised for a journeyman who "understands all branches of the business well enough to do Mahogany work of the best kind." Although no inventory of his estate survives, his financial and social prominence is indicated by his ownership of real estate in the Sutton area, a pew in the town's First Church and family portraits (Jobe and Pearce, pp. 168-170).
With an exquisitely delineated urn issuing interlaced vines, inlay similar to that on the top of this candle stand is seen on several other forms attributed to Lombard. In addition to the desk-and-bookcase at Winterthur (fig. 1), the same design adorns a fire screen, another desk-and-bookcase (fig. 2) and a candlestand (fig. 3), which like the candlestand offered here, bears dates and/or initials that presumably commemorate their owners and date of manufacture (see also Jobe and Pearce, pp. 166, 167, 192, figs. 3, 4, 45, 55). Many of these related items, as well as others from the entire group also bear surrounds with mahogany banding, chevron stringing and quarter-fan inlay closely related to that seen on the top of this candlestand. An unusual embellishment is the detailing of the quarter-fan inlay with punchwork filled with a colored resin or wax. As suggested by Jobe and Pearce, the uniqueness of this inlaid design indicates that Lombard crafted this ornament himself, rather than hiring the services of a specialist (Jobe and Pearce, p. 193).
Lombard's shop was also capable of producing skillfully executed turned and carved decoration. Composed of undulating leaves with stem-and-scroll detailing separated by teardrops, the leaf-carving on the pedestal urn on this candlestand is identical to that on the candlestand at Yale (fig. 3) and a fire screen, both of which are closely related to the original finial on the desk-and-bookcase at Winterthur (fig. 1). Lombard may have been inspired by the designs of George Hepplewhite, such as those published in 1794 for tripod forms with similar leaf-carved pedestals and that for an urn-shaped knife box embellished with carved leaves (George Hepplewhite, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide (London, 1794), pl. 39). Although featuring a pronounced cusped knee, the base of this candlestand is also reminiscent of the designs in plates 93 and 110. Such parallels indicate Lombard's awareness of high-style aesthetics, but with noticeable differences, reveal his ability to creatively adapt these designs to suit local taste (see also, Jobe and Pearce, p. 191).
With varying degrees of similarity, the design of the pedestal and tripod base of this candlestand is related to two other candlestands and a fire screen attributed to Lombard, as well as two additional candlestands that may indicate the work of another cabinetmaker emulating Lombard's products. Besides the slightly less elaborate inlay on the top, the candle stand at Yale (fig. 3) differs from this example only in the lack of a ring-turning on the pedestal column and the use of upward scrolling feet. Otherwise, the two are very similar with dovetailed boxes housing the drawers and identical hardware. Another candlestand with minimal inlay and no carving illustrates Lombard's plainer and less-costly version of the same form, while two others of similar design have less refined construction and decorative details that indicate their production in another shop (Jobe and Pearce, p. 190, figs. 50, 51 and p. 196, fn. 22; Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Period (New York, 1966), p. 387, no. 376; Israel Sack, Inc., American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, vol. 3, p. 830, P3458).