THE COSTER FAMILY SET OF SEVEN CLASSICAL CARVED MAHOGANY CURULE-BASE DINING CHAIRS
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THE COSTER FAMILY SET OF SEVEN CLASSICAL CARVED MAHOGANY CURULE-BASE DINING CHAIRS

ATTRIBUTED TO DUNCAN PHYFE (1768-1854), NEW YORK, 1810-1820

Details
THE COSTER FAMILY SET OF SEVEN CLASSICAL CARVED MAHOGANY CURULE-BASE DINING CHAIRS
ATTRIBUTED TO DUNCAN PHYFE (1768-1854), NEW YORK, 1810-1820
comprising: a set of six side chairs and one armchair; together with a later armchair to match the seven, probably by Ernest Hagen; all retain a rich brown color and an old dry surface
Approximately 32 ¾ in. high
Provenance
Probable line of descent:
John Gerard Coster (1762/3-1844), Haarlem, The Netherlands and New York
George Washington Coster (1818-1869), Newport and New York, son
Charles Henry Coster (1852-1900), Newport, New York and Tuxedo Park, New York, son
Charles Henry Coster (1898-1977), near Warwick, New York, son
Thence by descent in the family
Special notice

Please note lots marked with a square will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) on the last day of the sale. Lots are not available for collection at Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services until after the third business day following the sale. All lots will be stored free of charge for 30 days from the auction date at Christie’s Rockefeller Center or Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Operation hours for collection from either location are from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday-Friday. After 30 days from the auction date property may be moved at Christie’s discretion. Please contact Post-Sale Services to confirm the location of your property prior to collection. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information.

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Lot Essay

With their seaweed-carved crests, curule bases and brass paw feet, these chairs and those in the following lot are virtually identical to two sets of seating furniture attributed to New York’s most famous cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854). The first, made for New York merchant Nathaniel Prime, is in the collections of Boscobel and like the sets offered here, features half over-upholstered seats. Now in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of the City of New York, the second set has caned seats and was made for Thomas Cornell Pearsall. As discussed by Peter Kenny, these forms illustrate the latest trends in furniture design, which accurately incorporated findings from recent archeological excavations. Based on Roman antecedents, curule-base seating furniture was illustrated and described as “Chairs with Grecian Cross Fronts” in the 1808 Supplement to the London Chair-Makers’ and Cavers’ book of Prices for Workmanship, probably the direct source for curule-base forms made in New York (Peter Kenny, Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York (New York, 2011), pp. 118-119, 178-181; Berry B. Tracy, Federal Furniture and Decorative Arts at Boscobel (New York, 1981), p. 41, cats. 11, 12).

According to the notes of Charles Henry Coster (1898-1977), one of the previous family owners of these chairs, this set was made for the Coster side of the family and Charles’ paternal great grandfather, John Gerard Coster (1762/3-1844) stands as a likely first owner. Born in the Netherlands, Coster immigrated with his brother in the late eighteenth century to New York, where he became a successful merchant.

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