Statue of Liberty Cabinet
It is not known whether Titus Albrecht made this cabinet in an elaborate late nineteenth-century revival style or embellished a purchased piece of furniture with his own fantasy, crowned by the Statue of Liberty. At the time it was made, there was an explosion of interest in woodworking techniques such as tramp art, marquetry, and fretwork. This was due in part to the availability of free or inexpensive wood in the form of discarded cigar boxes and crates, but it may also be tied to the large influx of emigrants from parts of the globe where such techniques flourished. During this same period, a great number of Germans arrived in St. Louis. The piece displays intricate cutout work in an overall scroll pattern and is further decorated with cherubs, angels, and figures. The latter strongly evoke theatrical poses from stage and vaudeville, including popular “statue” acts that featured a performer wearing all white, striking classical poses associated with marble statues. St. Louis was a center of such entertainments, with multiple theaters devoted to these performing arts, as well as German theaters dedicated to that immigrant community. Various types of performances were used to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty, a joint Franco-American venture that was brought to fruition in 1886. The statue at the top of this confection is in the guise of the Madonna, installed on a crescent moon and surrounded by a ring of stars. The deck of the cabinet features a patriotic eagle and bunting in marquetry, small pieces of wood veneer laid puzzle-like over the wood surface.
Stacy C. Hollander, “Statue of Liberty Cabinet,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.