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20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

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Art & Design

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Gorham Manufacturing Company, manufacturer
American, 1831-
William Christmas Codman, designer
English, 1839-1921
Joseph Edward Straker, silversmith
English, 1843-1912
Franz Ziegler, modeler
German, 1869-1934
Potter and Company, cabinetmaker
American, fl. 1878-1910
Lady’s Writing Table and Chair, 1903
Ebony, mahogany, boxwood, redwood, thuya wood, ivory, mother-of-pearl, silver, mirrored glass, and gilded tooled leather
127 x 127 x 71.1 cm (50 x 50 x 28 inches)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Thurber 58.095

On View

Gorham Manufacturing Company Potter and Company Joseph Edward Straker William Christmas Codman Franz Ziegler

Lady’s Writing Table and Chair

Gorham Manufacturing Company, manufacturer
American, 1831-
William Christmas Codman, designer
English, 1839-1921
Joseph Edward Straker, silversmith
English, 1843-1912
Franz Ziegler, modeler
German, 1869-1934
Potter and Company, cabinetmaker
American, fl. 1878-1910
Lady’s Writing Table and Chair, 1903
Ebony, mahogany, boxwood, redwood, thuya wood, ivory, mother-of-pearl, silver, mirrored glass, and gilded tooled leather
127 x 127 x 71.1 cm (50 x 50 x 28 inches)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Thurber 58.095

This masterpiece of inlay marquetry testifies to the technological sophistication and artistic abundance found at Victorian-era world expositions. Providence’s Gorham Manufacturing Company and New York’s Tiffany and Company vied for top honors in silver achievement at these events. At the cost of 47.5 pounds of silver, exotic woods, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and more than seven thousand man hours, Gorham won the grand prize for this lady’s writing table at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. The cast floral ornament is reminiscent of eighteenth-century French rococo work, and Hispano-Moorish designs are apparent in its sinuous floral inlays. The fluid female forms of European Art Nouveau mark this desk as partially modern, but in form and proportion it remains true to traditional American furniture.


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