Fife, Duncan

Born: 1768 AD
Died: 1854 AD, at 86 years of age.

Nationality: Scottish
Categories: Manufacturers

1768 - He was born near Loch Fannich, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. Scottish-born American furniture designer, a leading exponent of the Neoclassical style, sometimes considered the greatest of all American cabinetmakers.

1784 - The Fife family went to the United States, settling in Albany, New York, where Duncan worked as an apprentice cabinetmaker and eventually opened his own shop.

1792 - He moved to New York City.

1793 - Changed the spelling of his name to Phyfe.

1794 - Two years later he was listed as a cabinetmaker in the New York Directory and Register. From his first shop on Broad Street, he later moved to Fulton Street.

         - In later years he employed more than 100 carvers and cabinetmakers.

1800 - His workshop was executing delicate furniture in the Sheraton, Regency, and French Directoire styles.

1825 - As taste changed, his pieces developed into the Empire style. His Sheraton chairs, tables, and sofas often had delicate, reeded legs; and his Empire pieces, massive claw feet.

1837 - One of the first American cabinetmakers to successfully use the factory method of manufacturing furniture, he took two of his sons, Michael and James, into partnership as Duncan Phyfe and Sons.

1840 - After the death of Michael, the firm name was changed to Duncan Phyfe and Son.

1847 - The business was sold and Duncan retired.

1854 - He died on August 16th in New York.

1922 - Interest in Phyfe's furniture was revived when the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, organized a comprehensive exhibition of his work.
Page last updated: 2:46pm, 08th Mar '07
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