Attributed to John Jelliff American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 737

This sofa originally furnished the sitting room, or rear parlor, of the mansion built for Jedediah Wilcox at 816 Broad Street in Meriden, Connecticut. Completed in 1870, the house was heralded as one of the state’s grandest residences. The sitting room’s en suite rosewood furnishings, which also included armchairs (68.133.2-.3), side chairs (68.133.4-.5), an overmantel mirror (68.134.11), and window cornices (68.134.8-.10), are embellished with mother-of-pearl medallions featuring a lady’s head in profile and incised and gilded decoration. The suite is attributed to John Jelliff and Co. of Newark, New Jersey, based on a nearly identical armchair in the collection of the Newark Museum of Art and its accompanying bill of sale from the Jelliff firm. Although Jelliff and Co. operated a showroom in Newark, they also retailed their furniture across the country through a variety of regional wholesalers. Wilcox, or perhaps the building’s architect and superintendent Augustus Truesdell, likely purchased the furniture through a Connecticut- or New York-based retailer who sourced their inventory from various cabinetmakers.

Shortly after the mansion was completed, Wilcox experienced financial ruin, and the house and its furnishings were sold at auction to another Meriden industrialist, Charles Parker, the city’s first mayor who also owned a successful brass foundry. The Parker family continued to reside in the mansion until 1934, at which time they sold the property and it became a retirement community known as Beechwood Lodge. The facility closed and the building was ultimately demolished in 1968.

Sofa, Attributed to John Jelliff (1813–1893), Rosewood, ash, pine, mother-of-pearl, American

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