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Settee

1800-1815
Origin: China
OH: 32 1/3"; OW: 81"; OD: 28 1/2"; SD: 24 1/2"
Acacia, Juglans Regia (European Walnut), Cinnamomen (Camphor), Lauraceae, Thuja, Swietenia mahogani (Mahogany).
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1969-267,1
Appearance: Sofa with serpentine back, scrolled arms with double bead molding and carved sunflower rosettes at the termini of the scrolls; eight tapered legs ending in brass cup castors; front legs molded; stretchers between all front and back legs with a medial stretcher running from side to side; front seat rail with double bead molding; interior of back panel framed with molding; back panel, arms, and seat caned.

Construction: The sofa is made up of four separate assemblies: seat frame, back frame and two arm frames.

On the seat frame, the front, back and side rails are tenoned into the corner legs. Each seat rail is reinforced with an interior rail fixed with screws. The two downward curving medial seat battens are tenoned into the front and back rails. The proper right medial seat batten has been extended with a block that is inset into the front seat rail, and the proper left batten has an extension that is possibly integral to the rail. The medial legs are tenoned into the front and back rails directly below the medial battens. The stretchers are tenoned into each other and the legs. The legs are capped with apparently original brass casters.

On the back frame, the end stiles are miter joined and through-tenoned to the crest rail and probably the bottom rail and the medial stiles are tenoned to the crest and bottom rails. The rails and end stiles have integral carving to form a molded frame with the stiles extending beyond the molding and shaped to match the scroll headed rear arm stile to which it is fixed with four screws. The back frame is attached to the seat frame with four floating tenons. The joint is further strengthened with 4 screws that were probably added at a later date.

Each arm assembly features a scroll headed rear stile and a shorter front stile matching the scroll but curved to recede with integral molding ending in a rosette on the scroll head. The half-cylindrical top arm rail is shaped to match the scroll head of the stiles and is probably tenoned to the front and back stiles. It is additionally fixed to the back stile with 2 of the four screws that also join the back arm stiles to the end stiles of the back frame. The stiles are tenoned to the bottom rail. The bottom rail is double-tenoned in two locations to the seat frame side rail and three screws on each side have been added from the bottom, probably at a later date.

The cane covering is set in rabbets in the back and arm frames and secured in the traditional way through drilled holes.

Woods (by microanalysis): Acacia - crest rail; Juglans Regia (European Walnut) - front seat rail, arm rests, and legs; Cinnamomen (Camphor) - side seat rails; Lauraceae- front arm posts; Thuja- lower rail of back; Swietenia mahogani (Mahogany)- (left center front) leg.
Provenance:Vendor purchased one sofa from the Misses Alice and Edith Minturu (?) Smith of Bassett Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia and the second four to five months later from the Misses Smith's niece in Alexandria, Virginia (wife of an Episcopal School headmaster). The Smith sisters indicated that they had an ancestor whose last name was Greene who had been a sea Captain out of Charleston, SC who traveled to the West Indies and China. Both sofas were restored by Schmitt Bros., Madison Ave., NYC at the vendor's request. Letters from vendor regarding provenance are in the Object File.