Alice Karle Appraisal

Fine & Decorative Art

Queen Anne Dressing Table

Queen Anne Dressing Table
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Queen Anne Dressing Table

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Measuring only 30″ high by 32-5/8″ across the top this diminutive Massachusetts dressing table dates to 1730-1745, and epitomizes the grace of the Queen Anne period. The decorative woods are walnut and walnut veneer. The interior construction is of white pine. This eighteenth century American dressing table is in the Boston style, but with slight differences indicating an origin outside the city itself, and probably to the north along the coast of Massachusetts.

The drops, molding, and veneers are all original, and the table has a desirable old dry finish. Some of the veneer had fallen off, but is present and pictured in the inset photo. Original bat wing drawer pulls are secured by cotter pins, as was typical in the period the table was made. It is exceedingly rare to find a table of this type and age unaltered, without significant damage or repair, and so clearly revealing the original construction and appearance.

In England the Queen Anne period was of relatively brief duration. Beginning in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) it continued into that of George I (1714-1727). The style moved away from the heaviness and over decoration of the Baroque period. Based on Hogarth’s “line of beauty,” the sinuous curves of the cabriole leg defined the new style. Flat areas of decorative quartered veneers surrounded by cross-banded veneers, were preferred to the heavy carving that was prevalent at the end of the 17th century.

In America the style never seemed to fully disappear, especially in the more rural areas. The newer Chippendale style became fashionable, but the Queen Anne style existed alongside it, with some pieces even being produced into the 1820s. Conservation of the table has subsequently been completed, with the elements pictured in the inset photograph having been reattached.