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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.

 
 
 
Slab Table
1760–1800
Mahogany, secondary woods, and marble

29 1/2 x 49 7/8 x 22 1/2 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Bayou Bend Collection
Gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Arts of North America
 
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This table was made in Philadelphia when the Rococo style was at its height. Originating in France in the 1720s, the style came to America by means of England in the late 1750s. One of the important sources for American furniture in that style was a design book published in 1754 by Thomas Chippendale.

Together with its mate in the Pendleton Collection at the Rhode Island School of Design, this slab table must have made an impressive ensemble in 18th-century Philadelphia. The tables were probably commissioned for a principal parlor, or perhaps for adjoining rooms where their placement produced a mirrored symmetry. That they were conceived as a pair is evidenced by the subtle yet complementary variations on the two pieces. For example, on this frame the carved leaves trailing down the legs curl outward, and on the Pendleton table they turn inward. The central ruffles carved on the skirts, although identical in execution, also display a paired orientation, maintaining an asymmetry consistent with Rococo dictates. Made of mahogany and topped with a marble slab, this table was the most costly of its kind.