Lady's Cabinet and Writing Table

Possibly by William Sinclair, American, 1775 - 1852

Made in United States, North and Central America
Probably made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Mahogany, satinwood, white pine, yellow poplar; ivory, silvered glass

59 1/16 x 31 x 19 3/4 inches (150 x 78.7 x 50.2 cm) Height (of writing surface): 29 1/2 inches (74.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Miss Fanny Norris in memory of Louis Marie Clapier, 1940

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Shipping merchant Louis Clapier (born Marseilles, France 1765–died Philadelphia 1838) originally owned and kept this writing table in his Germantown home. Clapier was one of many Frenchmen who moved to Philadelphia in the late eighteenth century, achieved financial success, and rose to great social prominence.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Elegantly appointed writing desks with ornamental veneers became essential furniture for the stylish American woman's boudoir or drawing room during the early nineteenth century. In addition to supplying a writing surface, these desks provided secure storage space for fragile possessions, jewelry, and other keepsakes. Contemporary periodicals prescribed the forms and patterns of the fashionable writing desks, or bonheurs-du-jour (literally, "happiness of the day"), and their style and decorative flourishes show the marked influence of French prototypes. This desk descended in the family of Louis Clapier, a successful Philadelphia merchant, who was born in Marseilles, France, and who profited from the city's trade with Paris. The interior of the desk is closely related to two desks that are labeled by William Sinclair, a cabinetmaker who worked in the Flourtown area. It was probably among the furnishings Clapier acquired upon his marriage to Maria Heyle in 1801 for their elegant town house at Sixth and Lombard streets. Jack L. Lindsey, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 270.