The tambour desk was a new and innovative form that reflects the increasingly important place of women in American society in the early 19th century, as well as the growing international influence on American furniture design. Rather than relying on English design sources, the desk appears to be related to a small group of furniture influenced by contemporary French models, in this instance the bonheur du jour, or small writing table, of the Louis XVI period (1774–1793). The desk enjoyed great popularity in Boston and in the cabinetmaking centers north of the city. Exhibited in the Federal Parlor at Bayou Bend, this example bears the script initials “TS” and is similar to a desk with a paper label bearing the names of John and Thomas Seymour. Although these relationships strengthen the attribution to the Seymours’ shop, they are not sufficient to attribute the desk to a specific maker. Thomas Seymour’s own advertisements specify that the furniture was made not by but “under the direction of Thomas Seymour." Whether this elegant desk represents the work of an individual or a group, the accomplished results epitomize the cabinetmakers’ sensitive interpretations of the Neoclassical style in America, through the drawer pulls of English enamel, light-colored inlay, and delicate inlaid swags on the sliding tambour front.


Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Maker
Attributed to John and Thomas Seymour, American, partnership 1794–1804
or Thomas Seymour's "Boston Furniture Warehouse"
Title
Tambour Desk
Date
c. 1794–1810
Medium
Mahogany and unidentified inlay; eastern white pine and red oak
Dimensions
41 3/8 × 37 1/2 × 19 1/2 in. (105.1 × 95.3 × 49.5 cm)
Credit Line

The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Current Location
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
FEDERAL PARLOR
Accession Number
B.65.12
Classification
Furniture
Provenance

Acquired by Miss Ima Hogg on October 1, 1928, from Collings & Collings, NYC