adapted from Columbia Encyclopedia:
circa 1768–1854, American cabinetmaker, born in Scotland.
He emigrated to America c.1783, settling at Albany, N.Y., where he was apprenticed to a cabinetmaker. In the early 1790s he established a shop in New York City for the production of furniture; after several moves he finally settled in Partition St. (later changed to Fulton St.), employing over a hundred craftsmen.
He made chairs, sofas or settees, tables, and sideboards, using in great part solid mahogany but also some mahogany veneer, satinwood and maple, and, in later years, rosewood. During his most productive period (until 1820) he was influenced by, and adapted the forms of, the Adam brothers, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton and characteristics of the French Directoire and Consulate styles. Later, his designs followed the Empire style, becoming in his final period heavily ornamented.
Phyfe employed in general the highest standards, applied under supervision to carefully selected woods. His first designs are characterized by excellent proportions, graceful curves often accentuated by parallel rows of reeding, simple ornaments well placed and carved with precision, and decorative motifs such as the lyre, the acanthus or oak leaf, and the drapery swag. Although much furniture termed Phyfe may not have been produced in his workshop, his designs were the nucleus of the Duncan Phyfe style.
Duncan Phyfe style (1795-1848)
Appearance : Graceful and refined.
Chair Arms : Arms slope down to meet posts from seat.
Chair Back Material : Upholstered, Wood
Chair Back Shape : Crossbar - X-shaped splat, Crosspiece - single flat vertical slat, Lyre - lyre-shaped central splat, Scroll - curved X-shaped splat.
Chair Leg : Curule - X-shaped curved legs, Splayed - legs with a concave shape, Straight, Tapered
Chair Seat Material : Cane, Upholstered
Chair Seat Shape : Horseshoe with a rounded or serpentine front, Square.
Drawer Pull : Oval back plate with conforming handle of stamped brass, Mushroom-shaped brass knob, Mushroom-shaped glass knob, Lion's head with pull ring attached through mouth, usually in brass, Loop bail handle without a back plate.
Fabric : Brocade, Damask, Hair cloth, Needlepoint, Satin
Finish : Oil varnish
Foot : Continuation of leg, Paw or claw - animal paw or claw, carved or in brass, Knob - Small, round turned ball.
Hardware Material : Brass, Glass.
Joint : Dovetail
Line : Gently curving lines, Straight lines
Motif: Acanthus Leaf, Arrows, Circle, Drapery swap, Lyre, Plume
Ornamentation : Carving - cutting or chipping shapes or design, Fluting - carved or molded vertical channels, Fretwork - decorative carving or openwork with interlacing lines, Gilding, Inlay
Proportion : Graceful and delicate
Resembles : Chippendale, Empire, Federal, Hepplewhite, Sheraton
Underbracing : Limited usage.
Upholstery : Most seating pieces are upholstered.
Wood : Black walnut, Cherry, Fruitwood, Maple.