Federal serving table with single drawer and carving similar to that attributed to Samuel McIntire (1757-1811). McIntire was a gifted architect and carver who competted with other specialists in Salem and who is not known to have made furniture. The basket motif appears on mantelpieces and interior doorways of houses that he designed and on furniture that he carved for the Derby family (see Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). The basket motif was a favorite that was probably carved by several Essex County craftmen. A carver collaborated with other specialists to make this server. Its design and the templates used to lay out its top, drawer facade, case sides, and the height of the legs were probably also used to make a chest of drawers in an unidentifed Salem cabinet shop. The server has a serpentine front and sides with turret corners and a carved fruit basket in the center front drawer, gadrooned lower edges, and four tapered and reeded legs terminating in peg feet. George Alfred Cluett (1873-1955), of Troy, New York, and Williamstown, Massachusetts, collected American furniture from around 1901, shortly after he and Edith Tucker were married, through the mid-1920s. Cluett was prominent among early collectors. For the first museum exhibition of American furniture, The Hudson-Fulton Exhibition, opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909, Cluett loaned 22 objects. Cluett, whose family business became Arrow Shirts, finished collecting before Henry Francis DuPont began to amass objects for what became the core of the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. The Cluett family donated most of its collection to Historic Deerfield beginning in 1960, with its last gifts given in 2003. Cluett’s keen connoisseurship, focused on Classical objects (contemporary to his grandparents’ lives) is notable as he collected before the publication of the first seminal reference books on American antiques. Moreover, the early twentieth-century collectors focused on the so-called Pilgrim Century, which predates the Classical era by over one hundred years. Cluett was particularly intrigued by the work of craftsmen including Seymour, McIntire, Phyfe, and Lannuier. Cluett’s desire for privacy, and reverence for times past has long obscured his creative connoisseurship and legacy as one of the earliest and influential collectors of American furniture.
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