Large-scale and masterfully carved, the eagle supports on this pair of card tables are a powerful expression of American Classicism. The finely executed details, from the delineation of individual feathers, to the scaling on the legs and the mottled surfaces of the body, reveal the hand of a highly talented carver. Kentian in inspiration, large eagle supports were revived in England during the early nineteenth century, but only a few examples on the scale seen here survive from America. Related eagle figures with similarly rendered heads adorn two pairs of Federal card tables, including an example at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston attributed to New York’s renowned cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe (1769-1854). Known for his meticulous construction, Phyfe’s shop stands as a possible maker for the tables offered here. The hinges joining the two tops are covered in veneer, a fastidious detail that indicates the high quality of their workmanship. Other New York shops known to have made card tables with related supports includes the firm of Deming and Bulkley (act. 1818-1840s).
For the related tables, see the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website, acc. no. 58.19; see also David R. Barquist, Elisabeth Donaghy Garrett, and Gerald W.R. Ward, American Tables and Looking Glasses in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, 1992), pp. 225-227, cat. 119; Richard Randall, Jr., American Furniture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, 1965), pp. 136-137, no. 102 and 102A; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 30 June-1 July 1983, lot 223; Maurie D. McInnis and Robert A. Leath, "Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840," American Furniture 1996, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, WI, 1996), fig. 19, p. 158.