“Based On The Quality of Work” And Other False Reasonings
There are a lot of methodologies that people use to identify a particular piece’s maker, but few of them drive me more bonkers than “based on the quality of the work it surely was made by so and so”. Relative to what? How is quality being defined, compared?
This is probably the least scientific, most nebulous strategy for attribution that is humanly possible. We just don’t have a grasp of the level of craftsmanship that was pervasive at the time. Belter wasn’t the only person that made high-quality Rococo furniture. Why couldn’t your piece be by Galusha, Roux, Henkels, Jelliff or any one of 5,000 cabinetmakers that would have been busy (and skilled) at the time.
Case-in-point. Here’s a moderately well-carved Rococo style bedstead that I have. Flowers and acanthus carvings out the wazoo. Burled and striped mahogany. Circa 1900.
Guess where it was made?
New York? No.
Mid-Atlantic U.S.? No.
U.S. at all? No?
North America? No.
Europe????? Nope again.
It was made in Buenos Aires, Argentina according to the tag and here it is sitting in my guest bedroom 100 years later and 5,200 miles away in Philadelphia, PA. I bought it from a local dealer here in the area.
We have to admit how little we know about these makers and just appreciate their work for the beautiful items that they are.