George A. Schastey & Co. American
George A. Schastey American, born Germany

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 743

George A. Schastey (1839–1894) headed one of the principal cabinetmaking and decorating firms of America’s Gilded Age. Born in Merseburg, Germany, he immigrated to New York as a young boy in 1849. After fighting for the Union in the Civil War, Schastey took up work in New York’s expanding furniture trade with several of the city’s leading cabinetmakers and decorators before opening his own business in 1873. At its peak in the early 1880s, George A. Schastey & Co. employed at least 125 people in its workshops. Schastey’s distinctive designs are steeped in Renaissance sources with flourishes from the Islamic world.

In August 1885, the New York Times reported on Schastey’s new showroom at Broadway and West Fifty-Third Street. The published account applauded the firm’s stylistic and technical capabilities in furniture and architectural woodwork, highlighting its superior taste in interior design. The article’s author remarked that a large cabinet, likely this one, was “the most striking piece” and drew attention to the mother-of-pearl and metal inlays as exemplars of the firm’s technique. The elaborate inlaid pewter and brass foliate design that reflects the era’s taste for Moorish ornament contrasts with the rigid geometric pattern on the middle drawer.

Cabinet, George A. Schastey & Co. (American, New York, 1873–1897), Rosewood, mahogany, cherry, pine, pewter, brass, and mother-of-pearl, American

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