Between 1768 and 1772, John Cadwalader and his wife Elizabeth (Lloyd) commissioned a suite of carved mahogany furniture that has become legendary. Ordered from an elite group of Philadelphia's most accomplished craftsmen, these furnishings were recognized in their own day as they are today, as masterpieces of aesthetic and technical achievement. It is well known that George Washington and John Adams praised the household architecture and its elegant accoutrements and that Silas Deane of the Continental Congress commented in 1774 that the furniture and house exceeded anything that he had seen in Philadelphia or elsewhere.(1) Among the robustly carved sofas, easy chairs, firescreens, commode tables, and side chairs in the Cadwalader house, was the side chair illustrated here. One of seven of the original suite currently known, its intricately carved splat, seat rail, knees, this chair is an extraordinary celebration of the rocaille in America.
Inherent in the Cadwalader chairs, is an asymmetry of ornament and form, characteristics that suggest the work of immigrant carvers familiar with mid-eighteenth century European designs. The splat design and seat form, however, demonstrate that Cadwalader's craftsmen adapted freely from their sources. While clearly inspired by the three designs in plate 15 of Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, the profile of the front seat rail has been adapted from the first design in the plate and the double figure-eight motif at the base of the splat has been adapted from the second (see figure X). In addition, hairy-paw feet do not appear on any of the designs in the Chippendale plate. Drawn from earlier European protoypes, and requiring greater skill than ball-and-claw feet, hairy-paw feet were only rarely made in America. Likewise, the set of chairs are the only known American examples to employ the saddle-seat, a curvilinear, partially upholstered design, that required the technical mastery of its maker in order to incorporate the irregular seat into the seat rail.
Although only seven of the Cadwalader side chairs are known to have survived, there may have been as many as twenty in the set. The chairs appear to have been completed by September 1, 1770, when Charles Wilson Peale (1741-1827) received payment in full for the portraits of John Cadwalader's brother, Lambert, and parents Thomas and Hannah. The portrait of Lambert (figure 2), presents him standing in an interior with his arm resting on one of the chairs.(2)
The chair being offered here, which is numbered "I" on its shoe, may be the example depicted in Peale's portrait.(3) The carving on the back and rails is crisper and more carefully executed than that on the other surviving chairs, which suggests that it may have been the first one, submitted for approval before work began on the remainder of the set. This is corroborated by the "I" on the shoe. The production of elaborate sets or suites of furniture required close collaboration between the patron, cabinetmaker, and carver. Lambert, in fact, may have acted as John Cadwalader's agent, overseeing the design and completion of the entire set. During the fall of 1769, he supervised the work on John and Elizabeth's house while the couple attended to her ailing father in Maryland. John's Waste Book also notes that he reimbursed Lambert #94.15 for "B. Randolph[s] acct for Furniture" and #30 for "2 marble Slabs etc. had of C. Coxe." Evidently, Lambert was acting as his brother's agent in procuring furnishings as well. Although it is impossible to attribute the chairs to Benjamin Randolph's shop based solely on the #94.15 entry, that sum would have been sufficient for a large set, perhaps as many as twenty examples.(4)
Circumstantial evidence suggests that the chairs are products of Randolph's shop. The carving on the backs is very similar to architectural work from the parlors of the Stamper-Blackwell house in Philadelphia (now installed in the Winterthur Museum, figure X) and the Thomas Ringgold House in Chestertown, Maryland (now installed in the Baltimore Museum of Art). These interiors feature details taken from Thomas Johnson's One Hundred and Fifty Designs (1758) and A New Book of Ornaments (1762). Philadelphia carvers Hercules Courtenay (circa 1744-1784) and John Pollard (1740-1787) probably introduced several of these rococo designs. Courtenay, who apprenticed with Johnson before immigrating to the colonies about 1765, began his Philadelphia career as an indentured tradesman in Randolph's shop, where he worked with London-trained carver John Pollard. Courtenay established his own shop by the summer of 1769. On September 17, 1770, he billed John Cadwalader #81.2.1 for architectural carving, including a "Tablet the Judgement of Hercules" valued at #8.10.(5)
Pollard was the principal carver in Randolph's shop during the late 1760s and early 1770s. As such, he probably supervised several apprentices and journeyman carvers. Because the carving on the chairs differs slightly from work attributed to Courtenay and the other major carvers active in Philadelphia during the period, Pollard and his associates in Randolph's workforce are the most likely makers of Cadwalader's saddle seat chairs. The chairs clearly represent the work of at least two carvers. In accordance with accepted eighteenth-century practice, the most accomplished tradesman worked on the stiles, crest, and back-the components most readily visible (6)
The production of elaborately carved objects like these chairs was complex process, since the cabinetmaker had to understand the flow of the carving before he could begin to rough our the frame legs. In all probability the he worked from patterns that wither he or the carver both provided. Although draftsmanship and drawing were part of the training for both trades, it seems more likely that the carver would have furnished the patterns for the Cadwalader chairs owing to the quantity of the carving and its importance to the overall design. The overt British design of the chairs also suggests that they reflect the imagination of an immigrant tradesman such as Pollard rather than a native-born artisan such as Randolph.(7)
Cadwalader's saddle seat chairs were the genesis of a large suite of furniture made for the townhouse he and his wife purchased from Samuel Rhodes in 1769. At the time of their marriage in 1768, Elizabeth Lloyd's personal wealth exceeded #11,000.(8) A cash advance of #2,500 made by her father Edward allowed the couple to purchase a townhouse from Samuel Rhodes and begin converting it into "a grand and elegant" residence. Over #374 in unspecified payments to house joiner, Thomas Nevell suggest that he made and installed new architectural components throughout the house. The Cadwalader's house also contained over #360 worth of architectural carving, including a variety of moldings, trusses, architrave flowers, frieze appliques and sculptural busts and tablets. Among the carvers who worked on this project were Hercules Courtenay, Bernard & Jugiez, and, in all probability, John Pollard. Randolph's shop had the largest account, providing #252.16.1 worth of carving (9).
Several pieces of furniture made by Thomas Affleck and carved James Reynolds and Bernard & Jugiez were designed to be en suite with Cadwalader's saddle seat chairs. Between October 13, 1770 and January 14, 1771, Affleck's shop made over eighteen pieces of furniture for Cadwalader. Included were "2 mahogany Commode sofias for the Recesses" valued at #16, "one Large ditto" valued at #10, "an Easy Chair to Sute ditto" valued at #4.10, "2 Commode Card Tables" valued at #10, and "4firescreens" valued at #10. During the same time frame, Reynold's and Bernard and Jugiez were also occupied with other commissions from Cadwalader. In October, 1770, Bernard and Jugiez billed Cadwalader #28.10.7 = for architectural carving. Three months later, Reynolds charged him #140.18.1 for several large carved and gilt looking glasses, picture frames, and 539 yards of paper mache described as "Palmyra Scrowl" and "Leaf & Reed."(10) Two commode card tables attributed to Hercules Courtenay, with carved scrolling motifs and a centralized cabochon similar to the side chair offered here, provide a visual link between the various pieces made en suite with the chairs (cf. Figures X and Y, also see Figure 1).
The saddle-seat chairs were clearly part of a unified decorative scheme that included the suite made by Affleck and extended to the architectural carving and fabrics used in each of Cadwalader's principle rooms. Bills pertaining to the textile furnishings in Cadwalader's house shed light on the probable number, upholstery, and placement of the saddle-seat chairs. On October 18, 1770, Philadelphia upholsterer Plunkett Fleeson charged Cadwalader #13.13 for covering 32 chairs over the rail in canvas (figure 7). The following January, the upholsterer made 76 fringed, Saxon blue French check cases for these chairs and others that Cadwalader had inherited from his father-in-law and purchased from William Savery. The most elaborate chairs were subsequently fitted with covers made of rich blue and yellow damask that Cadwalader ordered from London. In January 1772, Philadelphia upholsterer John Webster billed Cadwalader #18.7.10 for making the curtains for 4 windows and for upholstering 20 chairs and 3 sofas with these fabrics. A subsequent entry in Cadwalader's Waste Book provides additional information on Webster's work, noting that the payment was for "Curtains in [the] front & back Rooms, Covers to Settees & Covers to Chairs in front & back Rooms." The curtains and covers in the front rooms were blue and the ones in the back parlor were yellow to match the colors of their walls and Wilton carpets.(10)
Cadwalader owned a second suite of furniture with hairy paw feet and straight rails. The chairs and matching card tables in this suite probably went in the small front parlor, which had green walls. Assuming that there were 12 chairs in this suite and 20 saddle-seat chairs, that would account for the 32 that Fleeson covered over the rail. After General Howe had occupied the house, an inventory was taken. This 1786 "Inventory of the Contents Remaining in Cadwalader House" listed:
1 mahogany dining table, 1 marble slab [table], and 1 card table in the "small front parlor," 1 marble slab [table], 1 card table and 10 mahogany chairs, in the "back parlor," 1 large settee, 1 small settee, 1 card table, 10 mahogany chairs in the "front parlor," 1 small settee in the "entry" on the second floor, 6 mahogany chairs with chintz "furniture" in the "back chamber" on the second floor, 2 old chairs and 6 mahogany chairs in the "front room" on the third floor" and 2 green covers for card tables, 1 blue damask settee cover, 10 blue damask chair covers, 10 yellow silk damask chair "bottoms," 1 yellow silk damask settee cover, 1 large easy chair, and 10 old mahogany chairs 'many broke' in the front garret on the third floor (Wainwright, p.73)(figure 9). The listing in this inventory of 10 side chairs in the front parlor, 10 in the back parlor may feasibly refer to a set of 20 carved mahogany, saddle-seat side chairs with cabriole legs and hairy-paw feet.
Of the seven known chairs in the suite, five are in Museum Collections and two are owned privately. The one offered here is marked "I"; an example marked "VII" is at the Metropolitan Museum (accession # 89.1270); one maked "II" on the shoe and "XI" on the rear rail, is in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg (accession # 89.1288); one marked "II" is in the Winterthur Museum (accession # 58.2290); and one marked "VIII" is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (accession # 1991.74.1); two examples marked "VIII" and "X" are in the Kaufman Collection (illustrated in Flanigan, American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection, New York, 1986, p.34).
GENERAL JOHN CADWALADER (1742-1786)
John Cadwalader, one of colonial Philadelphia's most prominent citizens, was cited by George Washington as "a military genius, of a decisive and independent spirit, properly impressed with the necessity of order and discipline and of sufficient vigor to enforce it." (11) A successful dry goods merchant in the early 1760s and a heroic revolutionary leader, Cadwalader is often mentioned among Philadelphia's most notable citizens, patrons of the arts, and patriots.
In 1768, John Cadwalader married the plantation heiress Elizabeth Lloyd, purchased the house on Second Street, and began to order the celebrated architectural carving, furniture, and textile designs for their new home. The Cadwaladers spent the early 1770s in the house but in 1776, on the brink of some of the revolution's worst battles, Elizabeth Lloyd died, leaving three children behind. Later that year, George Washington appointed Cadwalader to brigadier-general of the Pennsylvania militia. Not long after this appointment, Cadwalader led this militia through the Princeton, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth campaigns. In 1778, Congress elected Cadwalader to brigadier general of the Continental Army, the first of two such honors that he did not accept, returning instead home, to serve in the Maryland legislature. In the winter of 1779, Cadwalader got remarried to Willamina Bond (d.1837) with whom he had two children. While he continued to occupy the house on Second Street until 1785, it is thought that the family spent the winter of 1786 outside of Philadelphia where John caught the pneumonia that took his life at the age of 44.(12)
When John Cadwalader died, his estate was divided between his son and four daughters. The house on Second Street was rented, sold in 1793, and torn down in the 19th century. Thomas Cadwalader inherited the greatest part of his father's furnishings. The provenance of the suite of chairs, however, has not been fully traced. In 1904, a descendent of Thomas, Dr. Charles E. Cadwalader (1839-1907) sold a group of Cadwalader family furniture, brass, and porcelain before moving with his wife to Ireland. This substantial group of property was sold at Davis & Harvey's Galleries on November 3 and 4, 1904, but the suite of chairs was not included. Five of the hairy-paw side chairs (those marked VII-XI) surfaced in Ireland in 1973 and it is thought that these may have been brought to Ireland by Charles earlier in the century. (14) The chair marked II, currently at the Winterthur musuem, was purchased in the Philadelphia area in 1942. The chair being offered here probably descended in the Lewis Family of Philadelphia.
THE LEWIS FAMILY OF PHILADELPHIA
David Lewis (1766-1840) the son of Ellis Lewis (1734-1776) and Mary Deshler (d.1794) was born and lived his full life in what was known as the "Great" or "Governor's" house on 2nd Street north of Spruce. Built for Edward Shippen in 1693, it has been reported that William Penn and Lord Cornbury dined and lodged at the house and William Keith, and the Governor Denny resided there.(15) Later, Ellis Lewis acquired the house and it was there that Major Baurmeister, a Hessian officer was quartered during the English occupation. Family tradition recounts that the pin worn by David Lewis in his portrait (FIGURE X), was given to him when he was twelve years old, for defending himself against the son of the quartered general. Lewis, who took part in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, was named a Lieutenant of the Volunteer Infantry of the Provisional Army in 1798, was a merchant partner of Issaac Wharton, whose daughter, Mary Darch (1772-1819), he married in 1794. The Lewis' had ten children but David Lewis left his "household and kitchen furniture" to his daughters, Anne and Sarah. Although neither his will nor the will of his daughter Ann list pieces of furniture individually, it is assumbed that the side chair passed to Ann Wharton Glen, who passed all of her possessions to her only daughter, Mrs. Warrington Scott (16)
Two storage labels reading "Stored for Mrs. Warrington," and "Property of Mrs. S.M. Scott," have offered the clues to the chair's nineteenth and twentieth-century ownership. (figure X). In 1982, Lita Solis-Cohen discovered that the two labels refer to the same woman. Mrs. Frances Glen of Philadelphia (1845-1933), was married first to Mr. Edwin Warrington (1838-1899) and later, to Samuel Mathewson Scott (1863-1934). Mr. Scott married Francis Glen Warrington in 1904 in England and the couple subsequently moved to Florence, Italy, where they remained until they respectively died. Mrs. Scott left all of her possessions to Mr. Scott who left various funds and property to Jenny Puccini, a house servant. As Lita Solis-Cohen has written, the clause in Mrs. Scott's will itemizing furniture in Ms. Puccini's room, specifially "sedi di momano," (mahogany chair), probably refers to the chair being offered here. The chair, next located in New York, was brought to auction at Sotheby's in 1982. Mrs. Warrington acquisition of the chair was first determined with the help of Social Registers, local history and the knowledge of Mr. Clifford Lewis III, of Philadelphia. According to the research assembled by Mr. Lewis, it appears probable that Mrs. Warrington inherited the chair from her mother, Ann Wharton Glen. Family tradition holds that Mrs. Glen inherited the side chair from her father, David Lewis. While no direct evidence has come to light regarding the transfer of property from the Cadwaladers to the Lewis', it is likely that the side chair discussed here was acquired by David Lewis after John Cadwalader's death, as his family home was in close proximity to that of the Cadwaladers, on South Second Street in Philadelphia.(17)
1) Nicholas Wainwright, Colonial Grandeur in Philadelphia: The House and Furniture of General John Cadwalader (The Historical Society of Pennyslvania, 1964), p.1.
2) John Cadwalader Waste Book, Box 8, General Cadwalader section, Cadwalader Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, p. 53. The payment to Peale was for "2 miniature & 3 portrait Paintings in full." For more on the sitters, see Wainwright, pp.108-11, 114-15.
3) Some scholars have argued that the chair in Lambert's portrait is from a different set because it has plain stiles; however, evidence suggests otherwise. Peale's portrait of the John Cadwalader family depicts one of the commode front tables owned by Cadwalader. The actual table and chair in the paintings show similar degrees of artistic license when compared with the actual objects. For more on these portraits, see Wainwright, pp.108-11, 114-15.
4) Wainwright, pp. 22. Wainwright notes that Cadwalader purchased a high post bedstead, window cornices, and rods and hooks from Randolph in September 1769. Part of the #94.15 payment to Randolph may have been for this work (Wainwright, p. 38-39).
5) Luke Beckerdite, "Philadelphia Carving Shops Part III: Hercules Courtenay and His School," Antiques 131, no.5 (May 1987): 1052-63. For more on Courtenay's apprenticeship, see Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art II, Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: Random House, 1985), p. 24. Courtenay signed the non-Importation agreement in 1765 (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art [Philadelphia: By the Museum, 1976], p.111). the same year he began work in Randolph's shop (Benjamin Randolph Receipt Book, 1763-77, Winterthur Museum). Randolph made several payments on Courtenay's account. The carver's term probably expired by May 19, 1768, when he married Mary Shute (Philadelphia: Three Centuries, p. 111). Courtenay advertised independently in the August 7, 1769 issue o the Pennsylvania Gazette. His bill for architectural carving in Cadwalader's house is in the Incoming Correspondence, Bills, and Receipts, 1770, box 2, folder 17, Cadwalader Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and is reproduced in Wainwright, Colonial Grandeur, p. 12.
6) A ceremonial chair in St. Peter's Church in Philadelphia has an elaborately carved back with acanthus leaves that are very similar to those on the backs of the Cadwalader saddle-seat chairs. The carved details on the ceremonial chair are more carefully rendered, like those from the Ringgold and Stamper-Blackwell houses. The most accomplished piece of furniture associated with these chairs and interiors is a scroll foot pier table at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This table may be one of the "2 marble Slabs etc. [probably a reference to the frames]" that Cadwalader purchased from Charles Coxe in 1769. For more on this table and its relationship to the aforementioned interiors, see Beckerdite, "Hercules Courtenay and His School," pp. 1056-63.
7) Luke Beckerdite, "Philadelphia Carving Shops, Part I: James Reynolds," Antiques 125, no.5 (May 1985): 127.
8) This estimate of Elizabeth Lloyd's wealth does not include her land on the eastern shore of Maryland, seventy-eight slaves, 100 horses, and livestock (Wainwright, p.3).
9) For more on these carvers and their work for Cadwalader, see Luke Beckerdite, "Philadelphia Carving Shops, Part II: Bernard Jugiez, Antiques 128, no. 3 (September 1985): 502-5; and Beckerdite, "Hercules Courtenay," p.1051. The bills for all of these carvers are either reproduced or transcribed (Randolph) in Wainwright.
10) Thomas Affleck to John Cadwalader, April 18, 1771, box 2, folder 18, Cadwalader Papers, Historical Society of Philadelphia. Affleck's bill included eighteen pieces of furniture, two knife trays, bed and window cornice, and services from October 13, 1770 to January 14, 1771. Notations at the bottom of the bill indicate that Affleck subcontracted the carving on these pieces to James Reynolds and Bernard & Jugiez. Affleck's bill, which totaled #119.8, is reproduced in Wainwright, p.44. The bills from both carving firms are reproduced in Wainwright, p.29,46.
11) The bills from Fleeson, Webster, and Rushton & Beachcroft (the London merchants who provided the silk fabrics, fringe, and tape) are reproduced in Wainwright, pp.40-41, 59, 61. For more on the wall colors and carpets in Cadwalader's house, see Ibid., passim.
12) Wainwright, p.2, from John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1932), 37, p.548).
13) For more on the Cadwaladers, see Wainwright and Sandra L. Cadwalader, The Cadwaladers, 1677-1879: Five Generations of a Philadelphia Family (Philadelphia, 1996).
14) For more information on the five chairs, see Sothey's, Parke Bernet, Noevember 16, 1974, lot 1477, and David Loughlin, The Case of Major Fanshawe's Chairs (New York, 1978).
15) Townsend Ward, "South Second Street and its Associations," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol.IV, (Philadelphia, 1880) p., 48-51.16.; for David Lewis' will see Philadelphia City Hall, Will Registry, file no.8, will book, 14, p.182; for Ann Wharton Glen's will see came file no. 418, will book 145 p.144.
17) For Frances Glen Scott's will, see Philadelphia City Archives, file.3049; for Samuel Matthewson Scott's will, see same, file 2348. For more details on the provenance of this chair, see series of articles by Solis-Cohen listed in the "Literature" section above.