Portable, revolving book stands, like this one made of ebonized cherry and paper, (1875) allowed owners to have books, perhaps even the latest home decorating manuals, easily accessible in the parlor or drawing room. The paper panels that enrich these stands — with pointed quatrefoils on one and a variety of medieval-style musicians on the other — are based on ceramic tiles designed by the prominent British firm Minton and Company.
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.
This visually arresting, deep-teal hued Gothic sofa by Kimbel and Cabus (circa 1875) presents a paradox. The angled arms and legs meet to suggest adjustability or flexibility, but the strong mortise-and-tenon joints that secure the legs and rails render motion impossible.