image of object
Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
Click the image to enlarge

High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF632

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

218.44 x 102.87 x 52.07 cm (86 x 40 1/2 x 20 1/2 in.)

Date

1765–1795

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (backing on the drawer dividers and vertical dividers between the small drawers, drawer supports, braces at the top of the lower case, and back boards); cottonwood(?) (drawer sides and backs); white pine (drawer guides, drawer bottoms, back of bonnet, and bottom and top of upper case)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"A," in chalk, on extrior back of upper drawer of lower case; "B," in chalk, on exterior back of proper-right lower drawer in lower case; "C," in chalk, on lower middle drawer of lower case; "D," in chalk, on proper-left lower drawer in lower case; "2," in chalk, on interior bottom proper-left lower drawer in lower case; "Bottom," in chalk, on interior of bottom board on upper case; "Top," in chalk, on underside of top board in upper case; "A" and "B," in chalk, on exterior back of two narrow drawers in upper case and "C", "D", and "E," in chalk, on exterior backs of three wide drawers from top to bottom; "2," in chalk, on interior of proper left narrow upper case drawer and "3," in chalk, on interior bottom of top wide upper case drawer

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

An unidentified dealer in upstate New York; sold to Jess Pavey, Birmingham, Michigan; sold to Israel Sack, Inc., New York, 1953; sold to Mrs. Anderson Gratz, Lexington, Kentucky; by descent in her family; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, January 17 and 19, 1997, lot 777; sold to Leigh Keno, New York; sold to the present owners

Associated names

Jess Pavey
Israel Sack, Inc.
Mrs. Anderson Gratz
Sotheby's

Construction

UPPER CASE. The top and bottom are dovetailed to the case sides; the mid moldings are attached to the bottom on the lower case; a batten nailed to the underside of the bottom toward the back edge stabilizes the fit of the top and bottom when assembled. The three horizontal backboards are half-lapped to one another and are fastened with rose head nails to rabbets in the sides, top, and botom boards. The edges of the top and bottom boards are visible from the back. The backboard for the pediment rests on the top board of the case. A vertical brace once reinforced the backboards and was held in place with rose head nails; it is now missing. The bonnet is closed and roofed over. The tympanum is one piece. The moldings around the circular openings in the tympanum are shaved to meet the corresponding cornice moldings at the ends of the circles. Half-blind dovetails fasten the tympanum and the drawer dividers to the case sides; the bottom board fits in a groove in the case sides. The vertical divider between the narrow drawers is dovetailed to the tympanum and to the drawer divider below. The drawer supports are nailed to the case sides. The ones for the narrow drawer butt at the back against a board that spans the back of the case and is tenoned into the sides and that was nailed in place through the backboards; the support for the inner edges of the narrow drawer is tenoned into this board. Half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer fronts to the drawer sides with half keys at the top and bottom; the kerf mark on the drawer front interior are thick and long; toothing plane marks appear on the interor of the drawer fronts. The top edges of the drawer sides are rounded and are slightly lower than the drawer fronts. The grain of the drawer bottoms runs from front to back; on the side drawer the bottoms are composed of two wide boards with a narrower one at the middle. The bottoms are chamfered to fit into grooves in the front and sides and are nailed to the underside of the backs with rose head nails; running strips are added to the edges. LOWER CASE. The single board case back is dovetailed to the case sides with half keys at the top and bottom and eight full dovetails between them. The bottom edge of the backboard is shaped with serpentine curves flanking a central arch. The joints of the top rails, drawer divider, and skirt with the sides is covered with veneer. The legs are glued to slots in the case sides reinforced. The drawer supports for the lower drawers are dovetailed to the skirt and tenoned into the case back; guides at the sides for these drawers rest on top of the legs at the front and the back. The vertical dividers between the lower drawers are let into a slot in the underside of the drawer divider; a board is tenoned into them and the case back; the supports for the middle drawer are nailed to the muntin and this board. The muntins extend to the bottom of the skirt and are reinforced with blocks on either side. A board spanning the top front of the case is rabbeted to the case sides. The drawer construction is similar to the upper case.

Bibliography

"Jess Pavey Fine American Antiques advertisement," Antiques 64, no. 5 (November 1953): 361, ill.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana, Furniture, and Folk Art, sale cat. (January 17, 19, 1997), lot 776.