This center table painted with musical motifs, baskets of fruit and shells, wreaths of flowers and leaves, and pastoral landscapes is an unusually extravagant example of schoolgirl painting on wood. This type of exercise is more frequently associated with small pieces of occasional furniture, such as sewing tables, and dates more commonly to the early years of the nineteenth century. The large Empire-style pillar-and-scroll center table must have represented a great challenge to the patience and skills of the young artist, and, in fact, Sarah D. Kellogg never finished her work. Around the perimeter of the decorative top, pencil outlines indicate where Kellogg had intended to fill in the border with more flowers and leaves. As such, it provides a rare insight into the process of amateur decorative painting on wood.
Sarah was the daughter of James (1792–1868) and Phidelia Kellogg (1796–1866). They were married in 1817 in Amherst, where James was listed two years later as a harness and saddlemaker. In 1835, he purchased a wooden-faucet business, producing a variety of wooden planes in large quantities. As business expanded, the operation moved to the area that became known as Kelloggsville. His new success may explain his daughter’s choice of the large center table for her project. After Sarah’s death in 1854, the table remained in her parents’ care and was carefully preserved in the family until 1985.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Sarah D. Kellogg Center Table, in American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 510.