Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Duncan Phyfe

Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) was one of America’s best furniture designers during the nineteenth-century.  He was born in Scotland and moved to New York in 1792 to start his furniture making business, which he opened in 1794. Phyfe quickly became famous for reasonable pricing, quality furniture, and simple style, though he included a broad range of the period’s classical styles including Empire, Sheraton, French Classical, and Regency.  

In the early years, his furniture was made only from imported mahogany, and after 1830, his furniture was mostly made of rosewood. Phyfe is also attributed to introducing the factory method of making furniture to the American cabinetmaker industry. It can be difficult to identify some of Phyfe’s furniture pieces, because he very rarely labeled his furniture. Duncan Phyfe’s furniture can be seen in the White House Green Room, Edgewater, the Roper House and Millford Plantation.

Card table, 1810–20
Unidentified Maker but attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York City
Mahogany, tulip poplar, brass


Antique Mahogany Card Table Attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York

Side chair, ca. 1810
Attributed to the Workshop of Duncan Phyfe (American, 1770–1854)
New York CiMahogany, gilded brass with yellow poplar, cherry, ash

Pair Recamier Sofas with Winged Paw Feet, about 1815-20. Mahogany and ash, painted verde antique and gilded, with die-stamped gilt-brass mounts and bolster buttons, brass line inlay, and gilt-brass castors.