The Smith Family Set of Eight Chippendale Mahogany Chairs
Each molded and C-scroll carved crest centering foliate decoration, above a pierced Gothic volute carved splat and trapezoidal seat frame enclosing a slip seat cushion, the front seat rail carved with C-scrolls centering a foliate reserve, raised on cabriole legs ending in ball and claw feet.
Secondary woods: yellow pine (slip seats) and Atlantic white cedar (glue blocks), by microanalysis
Richard S. Smith (1752-1796), to his wife
Hannah Burling Smith (1755-1840), to her daughter
Hannah B. Smith Mott (1793-1866), to her son
Richard Field Mott (1825-1891), to his son
William Elton Mott (1868-1945), to his daughter
Katharine Mott Martin (1898-2001)
The Smiths of Burlington, New Jersey
Burlington was founded in the late 17th century by Quakers on the banks of the Delaware river, approximately twenty-three miles north of Philadelphia. Burlington served as the capitol of West Jersey, before it was joined into a single colony and thereafter as county seat until 1796. As a thriving port and transportation hub between Philadelphia and New York, Burlington prospered through its largely agricultural commerce. The Smiths, a prominent Quaker family of the city, active in both government and trade, were instrumental in the growth of the area.
Richard S. Smith (1752-1796) descended from Richard Smith of Bramham, England, who was a ship builder and involved with the West India trade. The elder Smith settled in Burlington by 1694. His son Samuel Smith (1720-1776) continued his father's work in the West India trade and resided for a short time in Philadelphia. Samuel maintained his father's house at 320 High Street in Burlington as well as the family's country house, Hickory Grove, located not far outside the city. In addition to serving in New Jersey state government, Smith was also a noted author and in 1765 penned The History of the Colony of Nova-Caesaria, or New-Jersey.
In 1741, Samuel married Jane Kirkbride. Their two sons, Joseph (1742-circa1780) and Richard S. Smith (1752-1796) married two sisters, Mary and Hannah Burling, respectively. Richard represented Burlington as a member of the state Assembly, and served as a member of the New Jersey Convention which adopted the Constitution of the United States. Smith was also a farmer and merchant in Moorestown, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. An existing account book documents Smith's imports from London, which included various textiles, ribbons, glassware and leather goods (Haverford College, Gummere-Mott Family Papers, Mss. 1148, box 3).
Although no specific documentation exists, these eight chairs were probably made for Richard S. Smith sometime after his marriage to Hannah Burling in 1775. The couple lived primarily in Moorestown at the house purchased by Samuel Smith in 1766, and willed to his son Richard after his death in 1776. As prominent citizens of the town, Richard and Hannah hosted many visitors in what was considered the finest home in Moorestown. On June 19, 1778, as the British retreated from Philadelphia, Hessian troops occupied the Smith house just prior to the Battle of Monmouth. Around this same time, the Marquis de Lafayette, on his way to meet General Washington, was a guest of the Smith family in Moorestown. The Smith house, with several later additions, still stands at 12 High Street and serves as part of the Historical Society of Moorestown.
The Smiths moved out of the High Street house in Moorestown after the death of Richard Smith in 1796 and probably took up residence, at least part time, at Hickory Grove with Samuel J. Smith, who lived there until his death in 1853. Hannah Burling Smith, the youngest daughter of Richard and Hannah, probably inherited the chairs upon the death of her mother in 1840. Hannah B. Smith married Robert Mott, a New York school teacher. The Motts were a prominent Quaker family from Westchester County, New York, who had several familial ties with the Burlington area. The Mott's country estate was also named Hickory Grove. Robert Mott died soon after his marriage, but fathered one son, Richard Field Mott (1825-1891). Mott attended Haverford College and lived at Hickory Grove near Burlington. He served as the director of the Mechanics National Bank and was a leader of the Society of Orthodox Friends. His son, William Elton Mott, an engineering professor at Cornell, MIT and Carnegie Tech inherited the chairs and they passed on to his daughters Margaret and Katharine. We are pleased to offer this set of chairs as part of the estate of Katharine Mott Martin.
The Smith Family Chairs
These chairs stand as a statement of the taste and refinement of the prosperous merchant class of New Jersey during the late 18th century. A remarkable survival, the set remains intact and each chair is numbered consecutively from I through VIII, and retains its original slip seat. Made in Philadelphia, the style capitol of the new nation, these chairs are a restrained expression of the Rococo style prevalent at the time. Based on a Gothic design in plate 16 from Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman's & Cabinet-maker's Director, published in 1754, the interlaced pointed arches are enhanced by an unusual passage of carving surrounding the lower quatrefoil.
A chair in the collection of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State possesses nearly identical carving and construction details. This form is related to designs by several Philadelphia craftsmen, including chair and cabinetmaker Thomas Tufft (circa 1745-1788). Active in Philadelphia from about 1772 to 1787, Tufft received commissions from, among others, the Logan and Morris families, both of whom were intermarried with the Smiths. In 1775-1776, Tufft made a large set of richly carved mahogany furniture for Richard Edwards, a Quaker merchant in Lumberton, New Jersey, about ten miles inland from Burlington. A side chair from the Edwards group, sold at Sotheby's New York, January 17, 1997, lot 999, exhibits elements similar to the Smith chairs such as the opposing C-scrolls of the splat and carved front rail.
William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of Quaker Geneology vols. 2 and 3, Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Bros., 1936-.
James C. Purdy, Moorestown Old and New (1886), Moorestown, NJ: The Historical Society of Moorestown, 1976.
William E. Schermerhorn, The History of Burlington New Jersey, Burlington, NJ: Enterprise Publishing Co., 1927.
R. Morris Smith, The Burlington Smiths: A Family History, Philadelphia: printed for the author by E. S. Hart, 1877.
Jane Thompson-Stahr, The Burling Books: Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers, Baltimore: Gateway Press, Inc., 2001.
Major E. M. Woodward, History of Burlington County, New Jersey, Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1883.
Estate of Katharine Mott Martin
Additional Notes & Condition Report
Chair I: Repaired crest rail, shoe cracked, chunk missing from proper left front side knee return (broken out down to the nail ), original slip seat broken--the pieces have been saved and a replacement made.
Chair II: Good condition.
Chair III: Small crack in pierced section of splat
Chair IIII: Good condition.
Chair V: Good condition.
Chair VI: Tip of one scroll on front rail missing.
Chair VII: Good condition.
Chair VIII: Repaired crest rail.
Any condition statement is given as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Doyle New York shall have no responsibility for any error or omission. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging.
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