A Classical Bookcase Secretary

Albany, New York
Circa 1830
Attributed to John Meads and William Alvord

This Classical bookcase secretary exemplifies the use of various materials to make an impressive statement. The cornice is composed of multiple moldings and a long arch extends between the engaged columns on the doors. The flanking columns with gilded capitals and bases are attached to the doors which have elegant Gothic arches over the glass. Below the doors, two drawers have stamped brass pulls in a gilt-lacquered finish. In the base, a wide drawer pulls out to reveal a large baize-covered writing surface with openings on either side to hold writing accoutrements. Behind two doors faced in crotch mahogany, a storage space with a shelf is concealed. Two smaller columns frame the base. Again, very fine gilding decorates the columns’ capitals and bases. The feet are carved in an acorn shape with an egg and dart carving above the feet.

John Meads and William Alvord were the premier Classical cabinetmakers in Albany. A similar secretary attributed to Meads and Alvord is in the collection of The Minneapolis Institute of Art. There is also a related desk and bookcase attributed to Meads and Alvord in The Baltimore Museum of Art which had been purchased by a member of the Vanderpoel family. Meads and Alvord supplied much of the furniture to George Hyde Clarke for Hyde Hall, in addition to clients such as Governor De Witt Clinton, Solomon Van Rensselaer, and Erastus Corning I.



Mahogany, (Secondary woods: pine and poplar)
Height: 93” Width: 58” Depth: 25 ¼”

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