National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Table Table
Rendered by Frank Wenger (artist), c. 1937
watercolor, colored pencil, and graphite on paperboard
overall: 29 x 22.4 cm (11 7/16 x 8 13/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 28"high; 32"diameter.
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Furniture from the Index of American Design
Object 14 of 26

As the colonists' standard of living became more luxurious, specialized furniture forms were developed. The habit of drinking tea became popular in the 1730s, and tea tables became an important eighteenth-century furniture form after 1740. During the Chippendale period, cabinetmakers developed a tripod base tea table with its top supported by a birdcage device of the kind that appears here. The "birdcage" apparatus was ornamental as well as functional; it permitted the top to revolve when the table was in use for serving, but a peg inserted through the center prevented the top from spinning wildly. This characteristic Chippendale tea table stands on three boldly outthrust cabriole legs carved at the knee and ending with the usual ball and claw foot. The top is scalloped and edged with molding cut from the solid wood; the molded edge gave rise to the term "piecrust table," frequently used in reference to tables such as this one.

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