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Samuel McIntire (1757 - 1811)



January 21, 2011
New York, NY, US

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36½ in. high, 77 in. long, 29 in. deep


Mira (Chevalier) Rueter (1876-1962), Brookline, Massachusetts
Thence by descent in the family
Sold, Christie's, New York, 16 June 1999, lot 225
A Virginia Collector
Sold, Christie's, New York, 18-19 January 2002, lot 430



With its serpentine molded crest centering a raised tablet with double-swag carving and distinctive eight-star punchwork, the settee offered here is part of a group attributed to the master Salem carver Samuel McIntire (1757-1811). McIntire's designs are well documented in surviving examples of similar sofas, along with records of his work from 1790-1810, including bills detailing his involvement in the construction and decoration of the Derby family homes in Salem (Swan, "Where Elias Hasket Derby Bought His Furniture," The Magazine Antiques (November 1931), pp. 280-282). The construction and carved elements on this sofa match the related examples in this group; all feature the same molded contours of the crest with a C-scroll bordered arched tablet, scrolled arms with carved circular grips, serpentine-front seat frames and square tapering legs.

Providing the basis of attribution for the entire group is McIntire's hallmark motif of a carved basket of fruit on the arched tablet. This design is found on at least four sofas and closely related baskets adorn several examples of furniture and architectural elements made for Elias Hasket Derby's homes. Though this sofa, along with another now in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum, features carved swags instead of baskets, the close similarities between the carved rosettes and waterleaf carving on the arm supports to the basket-carved examples support the attribution to McIntire. Apparently McIntire borrowed ideas for these embellishments from contemporary pattern books such as George Hepplewhite's The Cabinet-Maker's and Upholsterer's Guide (London, 1794), plate 19.

This sofa was noted to have been owned by Mira Chevalier Rueter (1876-1962) of Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts. The daughter of Samuel and Jeanette (Mann), Mira (or Mera, Myra, Midie) married in 1895 Ernest L.M. Rueter (b. circa 1870), who worked in his family's successful brewing company. As noted in US Federal Census records, the couple lived on Perkins Street in Boston until at least 1920 and in 1930, they were living on Clyder Street in Brookline. A block-front desk purchased by Mrs. Rueter from Israel Sack (1883-1959) in 1919 was recently sold at auction and it is possible that she acquired this sofa from the same source. Establishing his business in 1905, Israel Sack was the leading dealer in American antiques in Boston during the time the Rueters were living in the city. See Men of Boston and New England (1913), p. 151; Skinner, 7 June 2009, lot 186).

Almost identical rosettes as well as waterleaf carving appear on those sofas with the basket-carved tablet, including an example now in the collection of Winterthur Museum, an example formerly in the collection of George A. Cluett and an example that sold in these Rooms, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Eddy Nicholson, 27-28 January 1995, lot 1145. (see Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Period (New York, 1966), cat. 264, p. 300; Kimball, "Furniture Carvings by Samuel McIntire: II, Sofas," The Magazine Antiques (December 1930), fig. 8). Other sofas in this group include an example now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Kimball, fig., 9), an example in the collection of Williams College Museum of Art (Winterthur Library: Decorative Arts Photographic Collection, 69.483), an example in the collection of Historic Deerfield (Lockwood, Colonial Furniture II (New York, 1926), p. 317, and an example that sold in these Rooms, 13 October 1983, lot 294.

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