Sideboard and Pair of Knife Boxes

Artist/maker unknown, American. Made for Simon Gratz, American, 1773 - 1839.

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America

c. 1825-1830

Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony, brass, lightwood banding, white pine, yellow poplar, unidentified hard woods

Sideboard: 50 inches × 7 feet 7 inches × 27 inches (127 × 231.1 × 68.6 cm) Knife boxes: 21 5/8 x 13 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches (54.9 x 34.3 x 36.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 107, American Art, first floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Elizabeth Gratz, 1909

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These richly decorated dining room furnishings were made for Simon Gratz (American, 1773-1839), a successful Philadelphia businessman. Many American cabinetmakers imported panels with brass inlay--also called boulle work in honor of Frenchman André-Charles Boulle, who perfected the technique--to adorn the furniture they produced, as seen here.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This richly decorated suite of dining room furnishings represents the highest development of ornamental inlay and carving found on Philadelphia furniture of the Empire style, which was popular in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Made for Simon Gratz, a successful Philadelphia businessman, the sideboard with its two knife boxes and the cellarette, or wine cooler, display an impressive scale and lavish design that demonstrate the stylistic sophistication and refined tastes of the city's leading families. The ornate panels of brass and ebony inlay were imported from Birmingham, England, and set into surrounding veneers to create decorative surfaces of a type rarely seen in American furniture. Jack L. Lindsey, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 275.

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