Gothic Revival Sofa
Philadelphia c. 1840-50
With simple, broad surfaces covered with rich mahogany veneers and little ornamental carving, this handsome box-like sofa is the Gothic Revival heir to the popular Neo-Classical box sofa, of which a number of examples were made in New York in the 1820’s and 1830’s based on a design for a “library sofa” that was first published by George Smith in 1806-08 in his A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration in the Most Approved and Elegant Taste (pl. 60). To a simple rectilinear form have been added elongated panels on the seat rail and crest rail, Gothicized by the addition of trefoil carvings at their ends. But the most important Gothic features are certainly the two pairs of pointed Gothic arches on the front faces of the arms, each of which contains a niche surrounded by cusps reminiscent of the components of trefoils and quatrefoils.
No one is likely to question the Philadelphia origin of this sofa, but a specific attribution is more difficult. A sofa with very similar Gothic niches in the arms, but lacking any Gothic carving (private collection), bears a stenciled label of C. H. and J. F. White, at 107 and 109 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, and a secretary in the collection of The Phila-delphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania (acc. No. 1973-61-1), also marked by the White firm, also features similar recessed Gothic niches.
Description quoted from: Feld, Elizabeth and Stuart P. Feld, In Pointed Style. New York: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., 2006, pp. 100-101.