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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

 
 
 
AMERICAN
Sideboard
1855
American tulipwood, northeast white pine, black walnut, and marble

106 x 69 x 28 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Anaruth and Aron S. Gordon

Arts of North America
 
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One of the most surprising examples of mid-19th-century American design, this unusual sideboard is densely carved with lifelike depictions of fish and game--an homage to the bounty of the American landscape.

Sideboards such as this one graced the dining rooms of wealthy families in the 1800s and were also exhibited at world's fairs. Cabinetmakers often created grand objects for international expositions as a means of demonstrating their craft skills in dramatic fashion.

The bottom of this sideboard is laid out in three parts, all carved in walnut. The left door depicts lobsters, fish, and eel; the right is decorated with game birds; and the central panel features the gun, pouch, bugle, and powder horn associated with the hunt. The magnificent captured stag hanging over it all acts as a centerpiece for the sideboard.