Pittsburgh Sideboards

There are three sideboards in existence known to be by Pittsburgh cabinetmakers. Undoubtedly there are more out there waiting to be discovered. One is seen in this short video. Although you can’t see them in the video, this sideboard has two carved panels that sat on either side of the mirror. This carving is present on each of the three sideboards. The cabinetmakers of which are William Alexander, Henry Beares and Benjamin Montgomery. The similarities in the carved panels, especially in the Alexander and Beares sideboards are striking, so much so that during an initial inspection it can easily be concluded that the pieces came from the same shop. Another more likely possibility (since the sideboards are signed) is that a talented carver worked for a number of shops. That carver could have been Joseph Woodwell.

This particular sideboard is not known to have a signature. Unlike the other examples, this one contains some egyptian revival details including the feet and black marble in the center. It is also of an unusually large size.

The Henry Beares sideboard is on view at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The William Alexander sideboard can be see in Wendy Cooper’s Book, Classical Taste in America.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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