Distinguished by the wide gouge cuts that extend through the tips of the acanthus leaves, the carving on this dressing table can be attributed to an unnamed carver identified and nicknamed “Spike” by Alan Miller and Luke Beckerdite. Miller has described this craftsman as “one of the important Philadelphia carvers of the 1760s and early 1770s” and examples such as the Lawrence high chest at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wistar desk-and-bookcase at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Gratz dressing table at Winterthur Museum demonstrate his virtuosity and artistic range. His talents were certainly held in high regard by his fellow woodworkers as his work appears on forms made in the shops of leading cabinetmakers Benjamin Randolph and Henry Cliffton and alongside or in close association with the work of eminent carvers such as the “Garvan high chest” carver, Hercules Courtenay and John Pollard. See Alan Miller, catalogue entry, in Clement E. Conger and A.W. Rollins, Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the US Department of State (New York, 1991), cat. 28.
A dressing table with closely related shell ornament by the same carver was probably made in the same shop as that offered here. Both tables feature a front skirt centered by a shallow arch and flanked by inward-facing scrolls and robustly carved feet with particularly pronounced claws (see Sotheby’s, New York, 26 January 2013, lot 411).