"The Fox and the Grapes" Dressing Table
Artist/maker unknown, American
For fashionable eighteenth-century Philadelphians, high chests and dressing tables represented the pinnacle of design, cabinetmaking, and carving in bedchamber furniture. This dressing table was conceived with a massive high chest of drawers (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1957-129-1). On its central drawer a composition borrowed from a 1761 publication by English carver Thomas Johnson depicts the moment of truth from Aesop’s well-known fable “The Fox and the Grapes”: a proud and skillful fox who cannot reach a bunch of succulent grapes decries them as sour and not desirable after all. The tale warns against the ills of greed and vanity, an ironic scene on this bold emblem of opulence.