American footstools are extremely rare, particularly those with cabriole legs, and very few survive today. With its serpentine rail and paneled pad feet, this example is possibly unique. It is a dynamic and fully developed interpretation of the Philadelphia Queen Anne style, in which the sculptural curvilinear form is emphasized. Its maker displayed his consummate skill in the complex joinery required to incorporate the celebrated S-curve or line of beauty into the seat rail. The unusual pad feet are of octagonal shape with rounded inner sides and three outer sides forming projecting tongues. Very similar feet are exhibited on a Queen Anne walnut roundabout chair in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art believed to have been made by Joseph Armitt of Philadelphia (see Morrison Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, no. 43, p. 88). William Hornor illustrates a closely related roundabout chair, two side chairs, a chest-on-chest, and dressing table as descending in the Richard Waln Meirs family from Joseph Armitt, who by tradition made them for his own use (see Hornor, Blue Book Philadelphia Furniture, 1935, pls. 71, 23-4, 37 and 39). The aforementioned dressing table, in particular, displays similar paneled pad feet to the present footstool.
A Philadelphia sofa at Winterthur Museum offers cabriole legs of similar profile with broad plain knees and paneled pad feet that are also very closely related (see Accessions 1960 by the Winterthur Corporation for the Corbit House, 1960, no. 19). The catalogue entry for the aforementioned sofa notes "Even then, the use of cabriole legs was rare; and this Queen Anne sofa, dated on the basis of its plain cabriole legs and pad feet, would be considered the product of a craftsman working almost in advance of his times."
Among the very few other extant American footstools, only a couple published examples originate from Philadelphia. One of oval shape with four cabriole legs, acanthus-carved knees and claw feet is at Winterthur Museum (see Charles Hummel, A Winterthur Guide to American Chippendale Furniture, fig. 76, p. 80). A square example at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with four cabriole legs, claw feet, and shell carved knees is one of four ordered from John Elliott, Sr. in 1754 by Charles Norris. The latter was included in the 1999 Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition, Worldly Goods: The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680-1758 and illustrated in the accompanying catalogue as no. 106 on p. 166.
Height 15 5/8 in. 39.7 cm
The Magazine Antiques (February 1952). Joe Kindig, Jr. & Son advertisement
Joseph Kindig & Son
Reginald Lewis Collection
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., Important American Eighteenth Century Cabinetwork, Decorative Objects, Notable Currier & Ives Prints, Property of the Estate of the Late Reginald M. Lewis, March 24-5, 1961, sale 2026, lot 234
John Walton, who purchased it at the sale for $10,000 hammer