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Photo: Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 81.665
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Commode


Object number

RIF761

Maker

Maker attributed John Goddard, 1723/24–1785

Dimensions

69.215 x 80.01 x 44.45 cm (27 1/4 x 31 1/2 x 17 1/2 in.)

Date

1765–1775

Current location

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); red cedar (drawer linings and case back); yellow poplar (outer boards of lower drawer bottom and drawer supports), chestnut (drawer runners), pine (drawer supports and drawer guides)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"Obeerer"?, in graphite, underside of upper drawer divider (possibly "top" in German); "Untner, (?)" in graphite, underside of lower drawer divider (possibly a variant of "lower" in German; "B," in chalk, inside middle drawer back; stylized face, in chalk, exterior drawer back; stylized house, sgraffito, lower proper-right exterior case back

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Originally owned by Peter (Pierre) Simon, Newport, Rhode Island. Mary Bowen Polk; given to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Associated names

Peter (Pierre) Simon

Construction

The single-board top is molded and serpentine at its front, sides, and corners. It is secured to the case by means of multiple screw pockets in the interior of the upper case back, case sides, top rail, and in a broad transverse batten on the proper right side of the underside of the top, and by multiple rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The two-board serpentine case sides are fitted with large carrying handles. The case corners are continuous elements consisting of serpentine-front stiles and legs, secured to the case sides and three-board back with mortise and tenon joints and multiple vertical rectangular glue blocks. There is no case bottom. The upper and lower rails and drawer dividers have heavy applied cockbeading attached with brads and meet the case corners in blind joints. Within the case are full-depth drawer supports both set in grooves and supported by blocks at the backboard, and half-lapped to the drawer dividers at the front. On top of the drawer supports are full-depth drawer guides. The three graduated, serpentine front drawer fronts are attached to their drawer sides with dovetail joints, having half-pins set in rabbets above finely cut narrow-necked pins, with half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer sides have flat tops and are slightly shy of the drawer fronts. The drawer fronts have prominent kerf marks. The multi-board drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the rabbeted fronts into which they are nailed with brads. They are nailed with brads into the drawer back also, have applied runners, somewhat random planing marks, and saw marks on their undersides. The quarter round skirt molding at the sides and front of the case is attached with brads, screws, and mortise and tenon joints. The short cabriole legs have broad knees and vigorously carved tendons and claws, with undercut talons clutching ball feet. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, November 14, 2012; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


Bibliography

Philip Zea, "The Serpentine Furniture of Colonial Newport," American Furniture (1999): 257, fig. 8.
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), 227n7.