Thomas Affleck

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Portrait of John and Elizabeth Cadwalader and their daughter Anne (1772), by Charles Willson Peale. The child is seated on a hairy-paw-foot card table by Affleck. Both the portrait and table are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Thomas Affleck (1740–1795) was an 18th-century American cabinetmaker, who specialized in furniture in the Philadelphia Chippendale style.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland to a devout Quaker family. There is no documentation of where he learned his trade, but, based on stylist similarities to his later work, it is conjectured that he apprenticed under Edinburgh cabinetmaker Alexander Peter. He moved to London in 1760, and immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1763. That same year, John Penn, a grandson of Pennsylvania's founder William Penn, arrived in Philadelphia and was sworn in as governor of the Colony. One of Affleck's first major commissions came in 1766 for a substantial set of furniture for Governor John Penn and his bride, Anne Allen, daughter of William Allen, the Colony's richest resident.[1]

Affleck's first shop was on Union (now Delancey) Street. By 1768 he had moved to Second Street, south of Dock Creek. In 1771 he married Isabella Gordon, and was censured by his fellow Quakers for marrying "out of Meeting." The couple had six children, four of whom survived to adulthood. Isabella died in 1782, and he never remarried.[1]

Another major commission was for furnishing the Second Street city house of John and Elizabeth Cadwalader. For this Affleck was joined by fellow cabinetmaker Benjamin Randolph, and carvers Hercules Courtenay, John Pollard, Nicholas Bernard, and Martin Jugiez. Cadwalader's receipts for the work survive at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, although determining which cabinetmaker made which piece (and which carver carved which) sometimes must be based on attribution.[2]

He participated in 1776 protests against war with Great Britain, but it is unclear whether he was a Loyalist, a pacifist, or both. He was deemed a "dangerous person" in August 1777, and banished to Virginia in October. Seven months later he was allowed to return to Philadelphia. He did not fight in the American Revolutionary War on either side.[1]

He moved his shop to Elmslie's Court in 1791. In 1790 Philadelphia became the temporary national capital for a 10-year period, while Washington, D.C. was under construction. Affleck may have made the chairs in Congress Hall for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Affleck died in 1795. His eldest son, Lewis, continued as a cabinetmaker.

Examples of his work[edit]

Marlborough-leg camel-back sofa (ca. 1775-1800), attributed to Affleck, Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State.
Marlborough-leg armchair (ca. 1766), Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Part of the set made by Affleck for Governor John Penn.
  • Card table (1750–75, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[3]
  • Side chair (1760–70, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[4]
  • Clothes press (1760–90, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[5]
  • Armchair (1765–75, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[6]
  • Side chair (1765–80, mahogany, possibly by Affleck), Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University Art Gallery.[7]
  • Chest-on-chest (ca. 1770, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), sold at Christie's NY, 16 January 1999.[8] Made for Vincent Loockerman of Dover, Delaware.
  • Chest-on-chest (1770–75, mahogany, attributed to Affleck, carving attributed to James Reynolds), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[9]
  • Side chair (1770–75, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[10]
  • Chest-on-chest (1770–85, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[11]
  • Marlborough-leg camel-back sofa (1775-1800, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.[12]
  • Senate armchair (1790–93, mahogany, possibly made by Affleck), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[13]
  • House of Representatives armchair (1794, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[14]

Governor John Penn furniture[edit]

  • Marlborough-leg camel-back sofa (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Cliveden House, Germantown, Philadelphia. Believed to be part of the furnishings made for Governor John Penn.[15][16]
  • Pair of Marlborough-leg armchairs (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Pair of Marlborough-leg armchairs (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Pair of Marlborough-leg armchairs (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.[17]
  • Pair of Marlborough-leg armchairs (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[18]
  • Marlborough-leg armchair (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware.
  • Marlborough-leg armchair (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.[19]
  • Marlborough-leg armchair (ca. 1766, mahogany, attributed to Affleck), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.[20]

Three more Marlborough-leg armchairs from the set are known to exist. One of them sold at Christie's New York in 2007 for $1,049,000.[21]

Cadwalader furniture[edit]

Made for John and Elizabeth Cadwalader. The furniture consisted of at least thirteen chairs, a pair of serpentine-front sofas, a pair of card tables, an easy chair, and four fire screens.[22]

  • Hairy-paw-foot side chair (ca. 1770, mahogany), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[23]
  • Hairy-paw-foot easy chair (1770–71, mahogany), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[24]
  • Hairy-paw-foot card table (1770–71, mahogany), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[25]
  • Hairy-paw-foot card table (1770–71, mahogany), Dietrich Americana Foundation, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Hairy-paw-foot fire screen (about 1770, mahogany), Metropolitan Museum of Art.[26]
  • Hairy-paw-foot fire screen (1771, mahogany), Philadelphia Museum of Art.[27]
  • Hairy-paw-foot fire screen (1771, mahogany), Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware.
  • Hairy-paw-foot fire screen (1771, mahogany), private collection.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Philadelphia: Three Centuries, p. 100. A nearly-identical set of chairs may have been made by Affleck for Governor John Penn's brother Richard, who was the Colony's lieutenant governor.
  2. ^ General John Cadwalader's Parlor Sofas from Museum of Missing History.
  3. ^ Card table from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  4. ^ Side chair from Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  5. ^ Clothes press from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  6. ^ Armchair from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  7. ^ Side chair from Yale University Art Gallery.
  8. ^ Loockerman chest-on-chest from Christie's NY.
  9. ^ Chest-on-chest from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  10. ^ Side chair from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  11. ^ Chest-on-chest from Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  12. ^ Items Camel-back sofa from U.S. State Department.
  13. ^ Senate armchair from Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  14. ^ House of Representatives armchair from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  15. ^ Raymond V. Shepherd, Jr., "Cliveden and its Philadelphia Chippendale furniture: A documented history," American Art Journal (November 1976), p. 5.
  16. ^ Images of the sofa from Cliveden.
  17. ^ Items Pair of Marlborough-leg armchairs from U.S. State Department.
  18. ^ Armchair from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  19. ^ Marlborough-leg armchair from Winterthur Museum.
  20. ^ Marlborough-leg armchair from Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
  21. ^ Governor John Penn armchair from Christie's.
  22. ^ Wainwright, p.
  23. ^ Hairy-paw-foot side chair from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  24. ^ Hairy-paw-foot easy chair from Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  25. ^ Hairy-paw-foot card table from Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  26. ^ Mary-Alice Rogers, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume 2 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985), no. 132.[1]
  27. ^ Hairy-paw-foot fire screen from Philadelphia Museum of Art.

References[edit]

  • "Thomas Affleck" from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  • "Thomas Affleck," Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976), pp. 98–99.
  • Nicholas B. Wainwright, Colonial Grandeur in Philadelphia: The House and Furniture of General John Cadwalader (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1964).
  • "Thomas Affleck chair of 1770-71 given to Philadelphia Museum of Art," (Resource Library Magazine, 2002).