American Decorative Arts

Dressing Table


American black walnut, yellow poplar, Atlantic white cedar

30 7/8 × 33 5/16 × 20 3/4 in. (78.5 × 84.6 × 52.7 cm) other (Case): 31 1/16 × 17 5/8 in.(78.9 × 44.7 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
The robust carving on this dressing table and its matching high chest is some of the finest found on rococo-style colonial furniture. The carver is sometimes referred to as the Garvan carver. This suite would have been used either in the bedroom or the best parlor.
18th century
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
By appointment

This dressing table and its matching high chest (1930.2000) have a history of ownership by Henry Wynkoop (1737-1816) and his wife Susanna Wanshaer Wynkoop (d. 1776), who were married in 1761, of Bucks County, Pa. in Wynkoop's will, dated 7 October 1813, he bequeathed to his daughter Christina several objects including his "black walnut chest with drawers, dressing table & chairs."(1) Christina Wynkoop (1763-1841) married Dr. Reading Beatty (1757-1831) in 1786, and according to tradition the objects passed to their daughter Mary (b. 1798). Mary Beatty married the Reverend Robert Steel (1794-1862) of Abingdon, Pa., and was still living in 1873. By tradition, the objects passed to her daughter Mary (b. 1839), who married Dr. Samuel D. Harvey of Jenkintown, Pa., in 1863. Objects then passed to their daughter in the fifth generation, Mary Steel Harvey (b. 1864), of Baltimore, Md. Miss Harvey sold the dressing table and high chest to dealer Henry V. Weil, New York, possibly in 1925; Weil sold the pair to Francis P. Garvan, New York. Gift in 1930 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 2, no. 4 (December 1930): ill. cover, ill.

“Henry V. Weil advertisement,” Antiques 7, no. 6 (June 1925): 303, ill.

Charles O. Cornelius, Early American Furniture (New York: Century Co., 1926), pl. XXVIII.

Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1928–33), n.p., no. 427.

R. T. Haines Halsey and Elizabeth Tower, The Homes of Our Ancestors as Shown in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1935), 69–70, fig. 54.

Meyric R. Rogers, “Garvan Furniture at Yale,” Connoisseur Year Book, 1960 (1960): 59, fig. 12.

Robert Bishop, How to Know American Antique Furniture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), 65, fig. 69.

“American Arts and the American Experience,” Museum News 53, no. 3 (November 1974): 39.

Charles F. Montgomery, “1776–How America Really Looked: Furniture,” American Art Journal 7, no. 1 (May 1975): 59, ill.

Charles F. Montgomery and Patricia E. Kane, eds., American Art: 1750–1800 Towards Independence, exh. cat. (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), 60, fig. 34.

Charles F. Montgomery, “Regional Preferences and Characteristics in American Decorative Artts: 1750-1800,” Antiques 109, no. 6 (June 1976): 1204, fig. 7.

Charles F. Montgomery, “Francis P. Garvan: He Would Educate the Nation,” Arts in Virginia 19 (Spring 1979): 15.

Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 195, 226–27, 283, no. 116, ill.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 90, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.