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Object Timeline

2009

  • We acquired this object.

2013

2019

  • You found it!

Armchair (USA), ca. 1870–73

This is a Armchair. It was manufactured by Kimbel & Cabus. It is dated ca. 1870–73 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is ash, leather, brass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This chair, by the renowned New York cabinetmakers Kimbel & Cabus, features carved and incised decoration in the American Modern Gothic style, popular in the 1870s and 80s. The chair corresponds to design no. 284-8 in a rare trade catalog held by the museum’s library. The catalog includes more than 100 photographs and is one of the only remaining works to visually document furniture designs by Kimbel & Cabus. The chair proposed for acquisition varies slightly from the image in the trade catalog, which is indicative of the firm’s customizations for its clients.
German-born Anthony Kimbel immigrated to New York in the late 1840s. In 1854, Kimbel partnered with Anton Bembe to form Bembe & Kimbel and created furniture in the Rococo Revival style. Shortly after Bembe’s death, Kimbel founded Kimbel & Cabus in 1863 with the French-born cabinetmaker, Joseph Cabus. The firm was located on lower Broadway in New York City.
Inspired by the writings of British design reform movement designers Bruce J. Talbert and Charles Locke Eastlake, which espoused the tenets of simplicity and honesty in materials and construction, Kimbel & Cabus developed a line of furniture in the Modern Gothic style in the 1870s.[1] By the late 1870s, the firm was a leading interpreter of the style, prevalent for furniture and interiors in America. The Modern Gothic pieces by Kimbel & Cabus are considered to be their most distinctive productions. Usually made of solid oak or ash, the pieces are very architectural in form. Kimbel & Cabus was one of only a few American firms, along with Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia, and Herter Brothers and Pottier & Stymus of New York, to produce high quality artistic furniture in this style.
Kimbel & Cabus not only manufactured custom and limited stock furniture but also provided interior decoration services. Their display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 was outfitted as a fully furnished sitting room, with wallpaper, carpets, portières, and other upholstered fittings. Kimbel & Cabus also worked in the Renaissance Revival style. Renaissance Revival pieces by Kimbel & Cabus, more commonly found today than their Modern Gothic pieces, are characterized by dark ebonized finishes and incised ornament highlighted in gilding, sometimes inset with decorative painted panels or ceramic tiles.
This chair under consideration would enable the museum to acquire a fine example of the work of a major 19th-century American furniture firm, one that is documented by an album of designs held by the museum’s library.
[1]Charles Lock Eastlake, Hints on household taste in furniture, upholstery, and other details (London: Longmans, 1868); Bruce J. Talbert, Gothic forms applied to furniture, metalwork and decoration for domestic purposes (Birmingham: S. Birbeck, 1867)

This object was donated by Catherine Tatum. It is credited Museum gift in loving memory of Robert Kaufmann, by his sister, Catherine Tatum.

  • Bookcase
  • joined and inlaid walnut, ebonized cherry, marquetry of various woods,....
  • 2013-12-1-a/mm

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 99.1 x 53 x 51.4 cm (39 x 20 7/8 x 20 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Armchair (USA), ca. 1870–73; Manufactured by Kimbel & Cabus (United States); ash, leather, brass; H x W x D: 99.1 x 53 x 51.4 cm (39 x 20 7/8 x 20 1/4 in.); Museum gift in loving memory of Robert Kaufmann, by his sister, Catherine Tatum; 2009-45-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18735345/ |title=Armchair (USA), ca. 1870–73 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=25 May 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>