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Noteworthy Sale: Heller Washam Antiques

Sold to a private collector
A Federal Gouge-Carved and
Polychrome Painted Fireplace Mantel
Possibly Washington, D.C., or Alexandria, VA
First quarter of the 19th century
H. 68-1/2, W. 96 in.; Opening H. 45, W. 59-1/4 in.
Courtesy of Heller/Washam Antiques, Woodbury CT, and Portland, ME

This mantel was discovered in the "black" in mid-Tennessee. The carving and symmetrical design is exceptional and seemed to be the most striking feature of the mantel. Conservation then revealed the extraordinary original faux marble paint, which had been preserved under the smoke-blackened layers.

The design, manner of carving, use of yellow poplar, and the large scale of this mantel suggest a possible origin around Washington, D.C., or Alexandria, Virginia, where accomplished architectural carvers were known to complete commission work for a fairly broad region in the early years of the New Republic.

The mantel is now located in a nineteenth century stone farmhouse, where it was a perfect fit. The installation involved the incorporation of a hand-chiseled 8'6" single piece of native red granite and eighteenth-century bricks into the hearth. "The mantel makes the room," states the new owner enthusiastically.

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