The mixture of a classical gadrooned and pierced cornice with the superbly carved rococo bolt covers and
naturalistic hairy paw feet places this bed firmly in the Philadelphia tradition of the 1770’s. Every part of the
bed matches the description of the best bed available from The 1772 Philadelphia Furniture Price Book.
The high rococo Chippendale, serpentine-front
wing armchair is now recognised and celebrated
as the General John Cadwalader armchair and seen
as a masterpiece of Philadelphia carving.
This was not always the case. The chair had
previously been dismissed by curators at both the
Winterthur and Philadelphia Museums, classifying
it as nineteenth- century and late English, respectively.
The bulbous rear feet are not a form usually
associated with Philadelphia work, and were
probably intended to house robust castors.
The hairy paw feet have separated toes similar to
the card table in the Philadelphia Museum of Art,
but unlike all the other hairy paw feet.
Cadwalader Easy Chair, 1770, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The fetlock carving is particularly interesting. It is described in the Cadwalader Study as; “a pronounced
clump of hair, which tapers to a point (whose form resembles a claw).”17
The fetlock hair on the bedstead feet is carved in the same manner as that described on the Cadwalader easy chair.
The furnishing and decoration of the Cadwalader home was such a huge and prestigious commission that it necessitated a hitherto unknown level of cooperation between cabinet
shops and carvers that would normally have been in direct competition.
It is precisely this level of cooperation that makes the firm attribution of carving very difficult. This is further compounded when more than one carver can be seen to have worked on the same piece of furniture.
|Rear of bed hairy paw foot.|