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American Decorative Arts
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Exterior, rosewood veneer; interior, mahogany veneer; sphinxes, other elements, eastern white pine; rear legs, soft maple; original inlay, stringing, brass and a black dense hardwood, probably ebony; left rear flower, fruit basket, alder (Alnus spp.)

30 3/16 × 34 7/16 × 21 7/16 in. (76.6 × 87.5 × 54.5 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, by exchange
The sarcophagus-shaped case of this specialized form for storing alcohol stands on top of two painted and gilt female sphinxes with high ruffs and lions’ bodies. In turn, the sphinxes perch on a platform supported by winged paw feet. Classical motifs from Egypt to Rome were a primary source for design after the Revolutionary War.
Made in New York, New York
By appointment
19th century

According to tradition, this object and a card table (1966.127), also now at Yale, were owned originally by merchant Stephen Bull Munn (1766-1856) of New York; They descended in the Munn family until they were acquired by dealer Paul Cooley of Hartford, CT. Cooley sold them to Israel Sack, Inc., New York, in 1962, from whom they were acquired by exchange in 1966. By exchange in 1966 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 1, p. 212, no. 544, ill.

Classical America, 1815–1845: An Exhibition at the Newark Museum, exh. cat. (Newark, N.J.: Newark Museum, 1963), 40, 75, no. 14, ill.

Richard H Randall, Jr., “Sources of Empire Style,” Antiques 4 (April 1963): 452, fig. 1.

Joseph Aronson, The New Encyclopedia of Furniture (New York: Crown Publishers, 1967), 28, fig. 86.

Dean A. Fales, Jr., American Painted Furniture, 1660–1880, eds. Robert Bishop and Cyril I. Nelson (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972), 159, fig. 256.

Patricia E. Kane, “American Furniture in the Yale University Art Gallery,” Antiques 117, no. 5 (June 1980): 1324, pl. XII.

Joan Pearson Watkins Revocable Trust and Elizabeth Bidwell Bates, American Furniture:1620 to the Present (New York: Richard Marek Publishers, 1981), 276, ill.

John S. Bowman, American Furniture (New York: Exeter Books, 1985), 72.

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), 55, 413, 442–44, no. 229, pl. 25.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 96, ill.

Wendy A. Cooper, Classical Taste in America (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), 136, 138, fig. 98.

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.