Renowned in his lifetime for his elegant designs and superior craftsmanship, Duncan Phyfe (1770–1854) remains to this day America’s most famous cabinetmaker. In the early 1800s, furniture from his New York City workshop was in such demand that he was dubbed the "United States Rage." This exhibition—the first retrospective on Phyfe in 90 years—reintroduces the artistic and influential master cabinetmaker to a contemporary audience.
Duncan Phyfe: Master Cabinetmaker in New York showcases the full chronological sweep of Phyfe's distinguished career. Included are examples of his best-known furniture based on the English Regency designs of Thomas Sheraton; work from the middle and later stages of Phyfe's career, when he adopted the richer "archaeological" antique style of the 1820s; and a highly refined, plain Grecian style based on French Restoration prototypes. The exhibition brings together nearly 100 works from private and public collections throughout the United States. Among the highlights are never-before-seen documented masterpieces and furniture descended directly in the Phyfe family, as well as the cabinetmaker's own tool chest.
Organized chronologically, the exhibition presents the cabinetmaker's life and work through drawings, documents, personal possession, and furniture. Portraits of his clients, and contemporary depictions of New York City street scenes and domestic interiors, provide a glimpse into Phyfe's milieu.
Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue, available through The MFAH Shop (713.639.7360) and the Museum's Hirsch Library (713.639.7325).
This exhibition is organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Generous funding is provided by:
The Henry Luce Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Meredith J. Long
Bobbie and John Nau
Mrs. William S. (Jeanie) Kilroy
The Vivian L. Smith Foundation
Isla and Tommy Reckling
Leslie and Brad Bucher