Representing the highest level of fashion in Philadelphia during the late 18th century these urn-top, meandering vine columnar andirons are part of a group possibly made by the master brazier Daniel King.
Exhibiting characteristics of the Federal period with engraved shield and swag decoration, this unique pair of andirons, with its impressive urn finials, relates to a pair at Winterthur Museum. The Winterthur pair employs hairy-paw feet and relates closely to the suite of furnishings made for the Philadelphia home of John Cadwalader in 1770, which included fireplace equipment by Daniel King (see Fennimore, Metalwork in Early America: Copper and its Alloys (Winterthur, DE, 1996), fig. 58). Like the Cadwalader andirons, the pair illustrated here demonstrates the ascendance of the neoclassical design vocabulary, while retaining solidly rococo ball-and-claw feet.
For related examples see, Sack, American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, vol. 4 (1974), p. 1011, P3882. Three additional pairs, one of which is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design are illustrated in Schiffer, The Brass Book (Exton, Pennsylvania, 1978), pp. 67-68. A pair of related andirons is illustrated in Davidson and Stillinger, The American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Knopf, New York, 1985), p. 67 and another comparable pair was sold in these Rooms, 5 October 2000, lot 78.