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Havemeyer Sideboard by Herter Brothers

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Havemeyer Sideboard by Herter Brothers

- Item No.

Monumental size and exquisite workmanship distinguish this Herter sideboard

Key Features

  • This stunning Herter Brothers sideboard exhibits the sculptural talent of Gustave Herter
  • The sideboard was once part of the Henry Osborne Havemeyer estate
  • Herter furnishings were quite expensive and were mostly custom made for prestigious clients
  • Havemeyer #2 is lightly handwritten on the back of the sideboard
  • Circa 1875-1885
  • 112 3/4 wide x 19 5/8 deep x 81 3/4 high

Item Details

  • Width:
    112 3/4" Inches
  • Height:
    81 3/4" Inches
  • Depth:
    19 5/8" Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
    America
This incredibly rare and important Herter Brothers sideboard showcases qualities that align it with the early works of Gustave Herter, who founded the firm in New York with his half-brother Christian. This magnificent specimen of American furniture is marked as being a part of the estate of the Henry Osborne Havemeyer of New York, a successful entrepreneur and three-time mayor of New York City. True to Herter's reputation for exceptional quality in both design and construction, this sideboard is certainly a masterpiece. While Gustave had the distinction of mastering a wide range of "revival" styles, it was pieces such as this sideboard, which exhibit elements of multiple tastes, that seemed to defy categorization and truly set them apart. In citizenship documents dated June 29, 1850, Gustave described himself as a "bildhauer" or sculptor and "a designer of patterns for rich furniture." Clearly, this sideboard possesses a certain sculptural quality which speaks volumes to Gustave's artistry, as well as the impact his high standards and vision had on the history of American furniture making.

This opulent masterpiece displays the dynamic carving that was much esteemed during the 1850s and early 1860s. Crafted of maple with cherry wood accents, the sideboard is crested by a laurel centered on a border of Vitruvian scrollwork. Acanthus partitions separate seven beveled mirror panels which draw the eye downward to a wonderful acanthus-lined frieze centered by a spring-loaded drawer concealed by a heavily carved maiden mask. The cabinet below is adorned with a relief scene of a pair of putti. Corinthian pilasters, recessed shelving and fully-formed reeded columns supported by putti flank this central scene. Inconspicuous cabinets are found on either side, and the entire piece rests upon subtle bun feet with casters. The depth and richness of the carving is simply incredible.

The breathtaking level of workmanship from the early period of such a revered artisan, combined with an important provenance, make this glorious sideboard an exceptionally rare find.

"Havemeyer #2" is lightly handwritten on the back of the sideboard, affirming its inclusion within the Havemeyer estate.

Circa 1875-1885

112 3/4" wide x 19 5/8" deep x 81 3/4" high

Henry Osborne Havemeyer
Henry Osborne Havemeyer made his millions as the owner of the American Sugar Refining Company and at one time controlled the entire sugar refining industry in the United States. Havemeyer and his wife were famed art collectors and patrons, even giving Louis Comfort Tiffany free reign to design the interior for their Manhattan dwelling. Havemeyer's impressive collection of art can be credited, along with that of financier John Pierpont Morgan, as the nucleus of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in its early days.

Gustave Herter and Herter Brothers
Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1830, Gustave Herter emigrated to America after serving under the tutelage of his stepfather, Christian Herter, an accomplished cabinetmaker. He settled in New York City and after working for Tiffany, Young and Ellis, the predecessor of Tiffany and Company for a few years, Herter opened up his own cabinetmaking shop in 1851. It didn't take long for Herter to establish himself, and by 1853, he was exhibiting his work at the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York City. Herter's half-brother Christian joined him in New York in 1860 and they formed Herter Brothers firm between 1864 and 1865. While Gustave preferred more sculptural, revivalist designs, Christian, who had studied art at the prestigious École de Beaux-Arts in Paris, brought more exotic designs in line with the then-popular Aesthetic Movement. Together they literally set the standards for high quality craftsmanship and luxurious interiors, transforming the homes of many of the country's most influential families.

By 1870, Gustave had tired of the business and he, along with his family, retired to Stuttgart. Christian bought his brother's interest in the business and set about turning it into a leader of progressive furniture and interior design in America, no doubt influenced by his studies in Paris and trips to England. In 1879, Christian accepted the Vanderbilt commission as his last, intending to leave America to study painting in Paris. Christian died in 1883 and Gustave died in 1898. Always recognized for their innovative designs, the Herter Brothers left an indelible mark on the American decorative arts landscape. Today, their work is highly prized for its artistry and quality, and extraordinary pieces such as this are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  

References:
Masterpieces of American Furniture From the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1999, Anna Tobin D'Ambrosio
 

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Price: $128,500
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