Duncan Fife arrived in America in the early 1780's having crossed the Atlantic from Scotland as a rather poor immigrant. His family settled in Albany where Duncan learned his craft. By 1791 he had moved to New York City, set up his own shop and changed his name from Fife to Phyfe. Branding was as important in the early 19th century as it is now. Trading an "F" for a more sophisticated "Ph" attracted a deeper pocketed clientele. It was his way of putting the polo player on his dining room chairs. For almost 50 years the Duncan Phyfe factory produced furnishings for Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and wealthy Southern customers. The exhibit at the Met covers three distinct periods of furniture design as imagined by the craftsmen at Phyfe.
Thank you Duncan for fulfilling our monthly cultural obligation.
WORDS FOR THE WISE
Klismos refers to a type of chair attributed to the Greeks. The chair is defined by a soft curving back that s-curves through the seat and then down to the curve of its legs. The French resurrected the form with their Directoire style followed by the English and their English Regency and finally incorporated by us with our American Empire versions.
Michael Kenna, Photographer
Represented by Robert Mann Gallery