Thomas Brooks Attribution Response From Philadelphia Museum of Art
I heard from Jennifer Zwilling at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Thomas Brooks attribution basis for this sofa I recently posted about. I thank Jennifer for taking the time to respond and to do so with the amount detail that she did.
I have not yet followed up on the information that she provides, namely to look at the Brooklyn Museum pieces, but I thought I’d pass her response onto Rare Victorian readers in the meantime.
Thank you for your interest in our collection. The sofa you saw in our gallery (along with the rest of the double parlor suite in our collection) was attributed to Thomas Brooks upon its accession in 1972 on the basis of its similarity to a set at the Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Museum’s set is attributed based on a bill of sale from 1872 and a label on the back of the mirror from a marble topped chest of drawers which was a gift from the same family. That set is similar, but not identical to the PMA’s.
There is always room in an attribution for further research and questioning. Two parlor sets very similar to ours have come up in recent sales at Neal Auction and Cowan’s Auction; I don’t believe either have firm documentation. Less similar sets exist at the Newark Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the High Museum, the Dallas Museum, the Bush House in Salem, OR, and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. These are all attributed to John Jelliff.
As no identical suite has come to light (as far as I know) with existing documentation to any maker, research continues.
It is always nice to hear from an interested visitor, please feel free to email with any further questions.
American Decorative Arts
Philadelphia Museum of Art