Philadelphia Queen Anne Highboy Offered at Pook & Pook

Philadelphia Queen Anne transitional carved mahogany scroll top high chest of drawers, ca. 1755 (Lot 417) at Pook & Pook
Philadelphia Queen Anne transitional carved mahogany scroll top high chest of drawers, ca. 1755 (Lot 417) at Pook & Pook

The upcoming auction (June 20) at Pook & Pook features an important Philadelphia Queen Anne highboy, attributed to both Samuel Harding and ”The Garvan Carver”. The wide estimated price (between $50,000 – $150,000) indicates that probably such a museum piece may not fetch as high as it should have under the current economy yet there is still a hope that such rare beauty may spice up the competition between those who appreciate it and have deep pockets. Another interesting thing is that this piece is attributed by two different hands. If the dating is correct, this could be one of the last pieces that Samuel Harding made in his life.

Here is the description from the sale catalog.

Important Philadelphia Queen Anne transitional carved ahogany scroll top high chest of drawers, ca. 1755 in two parts, the carving attributed to the hands of both Samuel Harding and “The Garvan Carver”. The upper section has a swans neck pediment with flame finials and floral rosettes above a tympanum rocaille shell and ‘floating’ streaming foliage that are both signature elements of the work of Samuel Harding (died 1758). The five smaller drawers and three long drawers retain period brasses and are flanked by bold fluted quarter columns. The base has a central drawer with recessed shell carving and applied streaming foliage above a scalloped skirt with an applied shell, supported by cabriole legs with shell carved knees terminating in ball and claw feet, 7’9″ h., 47″ w. The carving on the base can be identified as being by the hand of “The Garvan Carver”. It is very interesting to have both of these carvers working at the same shop, but not surprising as they were working and living in close proximity.

$50,000 – $150,000

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 – 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that “his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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