Over the course of their nearly twenty-year partnership, Anton Kimbel (1822–1895) and Joseph Cabus (1824–1898) developed one of New York City’s leading furniture and decorating firms. Sons of German and French cabinetmaking families, they defined a new take on Modern Gothic design, a style that originated in Britain and was embraced by a growing middle class in the post–Civil War United States.
Combining British and continental European design sources, Kimbel and Cabus’s furniture featured bold, clean lines and rich surface decoration, and the firm used innovative production techniques to offer these striking artistic objects at a variety of prices.
The paper panels on the back splat of this geometric armchair (circa 1875) derive from tile designs by British firm Minton and Company. The figures are inspired by medieval allegories and represent duality, with Wisdom depicted as a scholar on the front, and a jester on the back.
Photographed in the Brooklyn Museum as Part of the Exhibit Modern Gothic: The Inventive Furniture of Kimbel and Cabus, 1863–82, on View Through February 13th, 2022.