Bill M. sent me photos of a five-piece inlaid Renaissance Revival parlor suite with porcelain plaques to get some input on it’s maker. He had run into this older post I did on the Herter Brothers attributions that come about from the mere presence of decorative inlay and overall high style. Twenty years ago, Bill’s set was identified to have been made by Herter Brothers by a dealer friend. I’m far from an expert, but I don’t believe that the set was made by the Herters. Comparing the inlay patterns and lion heads alone against the Appendix images in the Herter book yields no similarities enough to get my blood pumping.
However, there is a possibility that whomever made Bill’s sofa also made the sofa in the earlier post. Here is a comparison of the lions carved into the arms. They are not identical, but similar in many ways.
Bill also was curious about the fact that there are a pair of matching armchairs that are smaller in height than the other chairs. At least one also has the “full treatment” with a porcelain plaque included within the crest. Bill had this to say about the set:
While I have nothing to substantiate any of my suspicions, I can’t help but wonder if they could have been designed for Charles S. Stratton (Tom Thumb), and his new wife at the time this parlor set would have been crafted. Listed among his wedding gifts at the time was a specially constructed 12” G. Herter rosewood chair with blue fabric from Gustave Herter himself, but no pictures have been found to date of his wedding gifts. I’ve been collecting antiques for forty years, but have yet to run across any chairs of this scale before. Have you seen other sets that would include a pair of matching small chairs?
I also wonder whether this set is even New York? Present on the skirts of this set are Christopher Dresser-esque plant motifs that I usually attribute with Philadelphia:
Peruse the photos of Bill’s set below and weigh in with your comments if you have any thoughts.