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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF600

Maker

Maker John Goddard, 1723/24–1785

Dimensions

104.775 x 95.25 x 52.864 cm (41 1/4 x 37 1/2 x 20 13/16 in.)

Date

1754

Current location

Private collection

Geography

Made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany (primary, drawer bottoms of the interior drawers, and sides of the letters drawers); red cedar (interior drawer sides); white pine (board below the interior drawers, bottoms and linings of some exterior drawers, backing for the drawer dividers, bottom board, blocks for the feet, and bracket for rear feet); yellow poplar (some exterior drawer sides)

Marks

"John Goddard 1754," incised, on back of prospect door

Inscriptions

"A," "B," "C," and "D," in chalk, on interior of large drawer backs;the numerals "1" through "11," in graphite, on interior sides of interior drawers near the front corners and at center of interior of drawer backs in order from the proper right top interior drawer to proper left bottom interior drawer; "1" through "6," in graphite, on valance drawers at front interior corners and center of interior backs from left to right; "Walter [illegible] to Beren / for [illegible] shall help you / [illegible] the [illegible] for / mahogany desk," in chalk, on underside of bottom of one exterior drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Benjamin Hazard (1770–1841), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent in the Hazard family, Newport, before 1936; by descent to Ida Smith; sold to Dr. Niles L. Ek (born circa 1884), Providence, Rhode Island, by 1936. Israel Sack, Inc., New York, 1980; sold to a private collection

Associated names

Benjamin Hazard
Descendants of Benjamin Hazard
Ida Smith
Dr. Niles L. Ek
Israel Sack, Inc.

Construction

Half-blind dovetails fasten the desk top to the one-piece case sides; there is a half pin at the front and a half tail at the rear with nine full dovetails between them; the bottom is also dovetailed to the case sides. The three horizontal backboards are fastened with rosehead nails to rabbets in the top and sides and to the back edge of the bottom board. Half-blind dovetails fasten the top rail and the drawer divider to the case sides; the bottom rail fits in a groove in the case sides. The ends of the lopers are carved bird's heads; muntins next to them fit in grooves in the rail above and the drawer divider below. Half-blind dovetails fasten the fronts to the sides on the valance drawers; the bottoms are glued to rabbets in the front, sides and back; the top edges of the drawer sides are rounded with slight chamfers; the back edge of the back is chamfered. The larger interior drawers have similar construction; with has half pins at the top and bottom and with two or three dovetails between them depending on the drawer height; the drawer sides are slightly lower than the drawer fronts. No pins are visible on the batten ends of the slant front; the tenons are visible on both ends. Half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer fronts to the drawer sides on the exterior drawers; on the top drawer there are half pins on the top and bottom and one full dovetail between them; the kerf marks are long and coarse. The top drawer has a wooden sliding locking device that pierces the drawer sides. The top edges of the drawer sides are rounded with slightly chamfered edges and they are almost flush with the drawer front; the top edge of the drawer back is chamfered on the back. The grain on the one-piece drawer bottoms runs from side to side; the bottoms have evident jack plane marks; the bottoms are chamfered at the front to fit in grooves in the front and pass under the sides; running strips are attached to the edges of the sides; the backs are nailed to the underside of the backs with brads. Long blocks reinforce the joint of the bottom rail and the case bottom; the ones near the sides are lapped to the drawer support; the base moldings are attached to the sides of the case with nails driven from the exterior. Vertical blocks that rest against the case bottom reinforce the feet; horizontal blocks abut them. The back feet have brackets that fit in slots in the sides of the rear feet; the brackets ogee outlines on their inner edges. Examined by P. E. Kane, March 2004.

Bibliography

Wallace Nutting, "A Sidelight on John Goddard," Antiques 30, no. 3 (September 1936): 120–121.
American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 7, p. 1790, no. P4963, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 202, pl. 14, fig. 4.2, 5.1, 5.9c.
John Bivins, The Furniture of Coastal North Carolina: 1700–1820 (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 1988), 186, 190–192, fig. 5.119, 5.119a.
Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), 162, ill.
David B. Warren, "Living with Antiques: A Houston Collection," Antiques 149, no. 5 (May 1996): 730–731, pls. 11, 11Ia, ill.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (January 15–16, 1999), 128, referenced in the catalogue entry for lot 679.
John Bivins, "Rhode Island Influence in the Work of Two North Carolina Cabinetmakers," American Furniture (1999): 89–90, fig. 9, 10.
Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 45, no. 20, fig. 9.