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Photo: Courtesy The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Jamee J. and Marshall Field V, 1984.1387
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Bureau table

Object number



Maker attributed John Townsend, American, 1732–1809


34 1/8 x 36 3/4 x 20 in. (86.678 x 93.345 x 50.8 cm)



Current location

The Art Institute of Chicago


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


Mahogany (primary); maple, chestnut, and white pine (secondary)




“A” through “F,” in graphite, on interior bottoms of small drawers; “C,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-right lower drawer; “E,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left middle drawer; “B,” in graphite, on exterior backboards; “A” through “C,” in graphite, on dividers under proper-right small drawers; “D” and “F,” in graphite, on dividers under proper-left top and bottom small drawers; “E,” in chalk, on divider under proper-left small drawer




Probably Samuel Fowler (1718–1794), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his son Christopher Fowler, Newport, Rhode Island; by descent in the Fowler family; sold to John S. Walton Antiques, Inc., Old Lyme, Connecticut, 1976; sold to Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Field, Chicago, Illinois, by 1984; given to the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, 1984

Associated names

Samuel Fowler
Christoper Fowler
Heirs of The Fowler Family
John S. Walton Antiques, Inc.
Jamee J. and Marshall Field


The brackets for the back feet have serpentine outlines and where they abut the back feet the juncture is reinforced with glue blocks. The two-piece backboards are angled boards abutted with a lap joint. They are nailed to rabbets in the case sides, to the back of the sub top, and to the back edge of the bottom board. The joint of the top rail and the case side is l-shaped; the drawer dividers and bottom rail are dovetailed to the case sides.


Other bureau tables attributed to John Townsend include RIF 231, RIF 271, RIF1430, RIF1784, RIF1785, and RIF3607. A variation, also attributed to John Townsend, has a cupboard that is not recessed, see RIF210 and RIF 1431.


"John S. Walton Antiques, Inc., advertisement," Antiques 110, no. 1 (July 1976): 4, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 163, fig. 3.88, 3.88a, 3.8.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), 80-82, no. 22, Accession no. 1984.1387, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 129, 131, 190–91, no. 27, fig. 63.