The Elephant Across the Hall
Perhaps it is not so much that there’s a bee in my bonnet, as that I am concerned an entire “school of” has been created, and in some cases taken as gospel, not only based on less than convincing conclusions, but more importantly, very probably at the expense of the true artisan(s) behind the work.
It is interesting to note that as listed on the receipt below, the “Liquor Case” was more expensive than the “Frame for Marble Slab”. That seems unlikely in the case of the highly carved “mummy head” and reeded pier table, and relatively plain cellaret pictured above.
This Baltimore pier table stands directly across the hall from the aforementioned table at Wye House. Over the years, the Lloyd Family certainly procured other pier tables, such as the one listed below in an 1837 receipt.
The figured maple and ebonized prospect section of this labeled Needles secretary contains much in common with Priestly (and William Camp) attributed examples. While there was undoubtedly a considerable amount of design sharing between Baltimore shops, the fact remains that the Needles shop was considerably more prolific and long lasting than the other two. In her article Alexander Kirtley surmises that, after working for Priestly for six months, John Needles’ “skills may not have met Priestley’s requirements”. Perhaps, but a more likely scenario, that of “the student surpassing the master”, and moving on to the “greener” pastures of self-employment, might more readily explain the contrasting history of both mens’ careers.
This labeled John Needles chest of drawers includes the “beehive” or barrel feet often associated with Priestly attributed furniture.