A Real Galusha In Our Midst
It’s not as frequent as Belter, Meeks, Horner, Hunzinger, and the other usual Victorian-era furniture makers, but it isn’t unusual to see furniture somewhat liberally attributed to Elijah Galusha. Galusha was a cabinetmaker based in Troy, NY who was most famous for his exceptional Rococo Revival furniture and less for his earlier Sheraton, Empire, and Gothic styles.
There have been some active discussions on some possible Galusha furniture attributions in the forum here and here, but in the midst of it all, I looked over the pictures of a site visitor’s furniture as just another maybe and didn’t have time to do the detailed comparisons that one should do before attribution. I am sometimes overwhelmed by photos sent to me from Rare Victorian visitors and can’t always dig into the details of everything that comes my way. However, the recent resurgence in activity in the forum with Galusha invited me to look at them again in detail.
Simply looking at the overall form and where the carvings seem to coincide from a distance is a start at identifying Gordie’s chair as a Galusha, but digging into the details is what needs to be done. The presence of a daisy (a common Victorian-era motif) or the top-heavy silhouette is not enough for me to say it is Galusha.
Let’s use the crest as a comparison point. Shown below are the RCHS chair crest and Gordie’s crest. I chose the most seemingly unique design area to compare – the part where there is a very unusual C-scroll with incised lines and a leaf protruding and bisecting the C-scroll. Surrounding it are identically positioned flowers (one daisy and one rose), all shown on Gordie’s chair below. Please excuse the poor image I borrowed for the RCHS chair and look beyond the scale of the two images, which are surely not to scale or on angle with one another.
This unusual but highly comparable combination of carvings continues through the center of the crest with the over-arched Acanthus, and more flowers and another C-scroll to the other side.
I would love to go into a more detailed comparison but the the reference chair images do not permit a detailed comparison. I need to head to Troy, NY and take some better images of the source chair. However in looking at the skirt carvings as well as the carvings below the arms, it seems the favorable comparisons continue throughout the chairs. (If someone is near Troy and can get some better images of the documented chair we would be very grateful!)
I will go one step further than “attributed to” and use the CDWA qualifier of “probably by” in connection with Elijah Galusha for Gordie’s chairs.
I leave you with one more photo of Galusha’s carving skills to use with attributing other possible Galusha furniture. My point to make is that Galusha was a man of detail and produced crisp and lifelike carvings as did John Henry Belter and J & JW Meeks. If you see any crudeness in the edges of carvings, or simplicity in incisings on pieces to identify, you are not likely to have a Galusha before you. That’s my take, anyway.
I also realize that Galusha produced many designs, so one cannot discard different designs from the above reference chair as not being Galusha. However, one can compare his roses, daisies, acorns, acanthus, volutes, etc., from reference chairs to start towards an attribution. You can even go one step further. If the petals compare favorably, what about the center of the daisy (the stigma?)? His are either spherical, or dimpled. His leaf veins are done in a certain way. You can go on and on…
Congrats, Gordie. My opinion is that you have the real deal.