Anthony Quervelle, French (active in the United States), 1789-1856
Medium: Mahogany veneer, pine, oak, brass hinges, key stock, iron and wood rollers
58 3/8 × 72 5/8 × 25 1/8 in. (148.3 × 184.5 × 63.8 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of the Decorative Arts Trust
Object Number: 2012.8
This monumental sideboard is the first piece of American Empire furniture to enter the museum’s collection. The style evolved out of French fashions popular during the reign of Emperor Napoleon I (1769-1821). While its maker drew inspiration from European furniture, the details are uniquely American. Here he enriched the sideboard’s doors with cornucopias overflowing with fruits and vegetables. These suggest the bountiful, fertile plains of the new nation. Quervelle included ears of corn among this abundant produce. The grain originated in the New World as was often used as a symbol of America. The focus upon foodstuffs was also appropriate as sideboards were made for use in dining rooms.
Born and trained in France, Quervelle arrived in Philadelphia around 1817. He quickly established a reputation for superbly crafted furniture made of dark, richly grained mahogany. Likewise—as exemplified in the sideboard—Quervelle often enlivened his pieces with innovative concave and convex surfaces.