Attributed to Thomas Tufft (circa 1740-1788), Philadelphia, circa 1770-1780
The rectangular top with molded edge above a conforming case fitted with one long drawer with thumbmolded surround over three short drawers with thumbmolded surrounds above a shaped skirt with conforming C-scrolled beading, flanked by inset fluted quarter columns, on cabriole legs with C-scroll and foliate-carved knees and ball-and-claw feet, appears to retain its original brasses
32½in. high, 33½in. wide, 20½in. deep

Lot Essay

Distinguished by its history, its form and carving, as well as by its survival in extraordinary condition, this table stands as a statement of the extraordinary skill of the best cabinetmakers working in Philadelphia in the decade before the Revolution.

Among the first Philadelphia cabinetmakers to be "rediscovered" by modern scholars, Thomas Tufft was discussed by Samuel Woodhouse and his labelled dressing table (figure 1) illustrated in 1927 (see Samuel Woodhouse, "Thomas Tufft" Antiques (October 1927) pp. 292-293). Woodhouse and other scholars were quick to piece together some details of Tufft's life, as well as some of his important commissions and patrons, who comprised some of the city's most illustrious families.
In the following year, Clarence Brazer published in Antiques Tufft's accounts with Mary Norris during the early 1780s (March 1928, p. 200). Mother of Deborah Norris, Mary ordered an extensive suite of furniture on the occasion of her daughter's marriage to George Logan, son of James Logan and heir to his stately 1730 house Stenton. Among this extensive suite, was "One pair Mahogany Drawers with Fret and Dentels and table to suit." The "table to suit" describes the form of the table offered here, which was undoubtedly originally made en suite with a high chest of drawers.
Another high chest and dressing table made en suite by Tufft were sold in these rooms in 1987 (Important Philadelphia Chippendale Furniture from the Edwards-Harrison Family (May 28, 1987) lot 201). Made for Richard Edwards in 1779, the suite also comprised two chairs and a pier table (figure 2). All of the objects from this suite bear affinities to the present example, most notably in the carving that adorns the knees of the cabriole legs. Tufft typically chose a restrained opposing "C" scroll on the knees and a variation of this design can be seen on the most of the objects attributed to his shop, including the Edwards suite.
It is in yet another Tufft suite that the affinities to the table offered here are most clearly manifest. The labeled dressing table now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (figure 1) is virtually identical in form, proportion, and ornament, and even bears brass pulls of the same 'Chinese' pattern. This labelled table, acquired by the museum in 1955, was reunited with its matching labeled high chest in 1991 (sold in these rooms, June 25, 1991, lot 276). Both pieces descended in the Lewis family.
In late 18th century Philadelphia, Tufft enjoyed the position of one of the city's most prosperous cabinetmakers. His estate inventory suggests that he had accumulated sizable estate relative to most other cabinetmakers, and his reputation seems to have allowed him to charge higher prices then some of his neighboring competitors. As the cabinetmaker of choice of prominent Philadelphia families, Tufft received commisions from the Norris, Logan, Powell, Morris and Richards families among others. While his shop was not as large or prolific as that of his contemporaries Benjamin Randolph and Thomas Affleck, his rank was likely that of their equal. This standing is reflected today, as Tufft holds the record for Philadelphia furniture sold at auction (see figure 2, sold $4,620,000).
The specific history of the present table remains somewhat obscure. By tradition, it was purchased by Robert Rogers of Philadelphia in about 1770. The dressing table descended to the current owner from his grandfather Dr. Robert William Rogers (b. 1864). His father was Samuel Rogers, and his mother was Mary Osborne. A number of men named Samuel Rogers were present in the Philadelphia area in the second quarter of the 19th century, and the exact lineage back to Robert Rogers of circa 1770 is obscure. The inventory of one candidate, Robert T. Rogers (d. 1798), lists a number of mahogany furnishings including a mahogany stand and dining table, but no chamber or dressing table is listed.

Thomas Tufft's furniture is characterized by elegance, grace, and delicate carving. The table offered here is distinguished by these elements as well as its condition and history in the Rogers family, and standsas a classic from this important Philadelphia shop.

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