Sumptuous in design and execution, this New York turret-top card table displays a masterful combination of curvilinear forms and exuberantly carved ornament. An exceptional example of the early Rococo aesthetic in New York, the table is part of a group of tables and seating forms all illustrating the accomplished hand of a single carver. Although this carver has not been identified, the quality of his work suggests he trained abroad, most likely, as postulated by Luke Beckerdite, outside of London in England. Rendered in high relief with rounded surfaces relieved with deep gouge cuts, the knee carving on this table relates most closely to that on a china table that descended in the Halstead family of Rye, New York (figs. 1, 2) (Luke Beckerdite, "Immigrant Carvers and the Development of the Rococo Style in New York, 1750-1770," American Furniture 1996, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1996), p. 265, fn. 26).
As seen on the table offered here, defining characteristics of the tables in this group include bold gadrooning that continues around the tops of the legs, sinuous cabriole legs, slender ankles and ball-and-claw feet with no webbing and noticeably short rear talons. Identified by Morrison H. Heckscher, the group also includes a second china table and a turret-top card table that descended in the Verplanck family (fig. 3). The Verplanck card table is notable for its accordion-action mechanism, a device rarely seen on American tables of this period and, as noted by Heckscher, its presence may indicate the work of an English-trained craftsman. While the table offered here opens with a swing leg, other details indicate it was made in the same shop as the Verplanck table. Besides their similar outward appearances, both have vertically laminated turrets with veneers that match the grain on the rails, a front drawer, the edges of which are artfully concealed within the folds of the scrolled lobes, gadrooning constructed of single strips with miter joints at the corners and fully carved rear legs. Seating forms from this group display similarly executed carved ornament and include chairs and a settee en suite with the Verplanck card table as well as a set of chairs made for Robert R. (1718-1775) and Margaret (Beekman) (1724-1800) Livingston. With names like Verplanck, Beekman and Livingston, the patrons of the collaborative efforts of this carver and cabinetmaking shop were among the city's landed gentry and, while the history of this table is unknown, it is probable that it, too, was in the household of one of New York's most prominent eighteenth-century families (Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York, 1985), pp. 174-175, cat. 105; Beckerdite, pp. 256-262; see also Christie's, New York, 20 January 2012, lot 117).