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High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF803

Maker

Maker attributed John Goddard, 1723/24–1785

Dimensions

208.915 x 97.155 x 52.07 cm (82 1/4 x 38 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.)

Date

1765–1785

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Sabicu(?) and mahogany (primary); pine (backboards, top and bottom of upper case, drawer supports upper case, lower case top, drawers bottoms and backs, drawer dividers, drawer guides, and blocks for vertical dividers of lower case); yellow poplar (drawer sides)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“A” through “E,” in graphite, on interior backs drawers of upper case [from proper-right upper drawer to lower long drawer]; “A” through “D,” in graphite, on interior backs of drawers of lower case [from top to proper-left bottom]; illegible graphite ["Bottom"?], on underside of upper case; "WT," in chalk, exterior backboard of upper case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Thomas Tillinghast or Joseph Tillinghast (died 1777), East Hampton, Long Island, New York; by descent to William Tillinghast, East Hampton, Long Island, New York. Leigh Keno, New York, 1989

Associated names

Joseph Tillinghast
Thomas Tillinghast
William Tillinghast
Tillinghast family
Leigh Keno American Antiques

Construction

The closed roof consists of multiple boards shaped to align with the serpentine pediment and nailed with brads to the pediment backboard and scroll board. The top boards of the upper case are attached to the two-board case sides in dovetail joints. Nailed to the case sides and case front with wood-filled brads is a two-piece crown molding which follows the scrolling pediment. The three-quarter round cutouts below center a (later) molded and fluted plinth supporting a (later) fluted vasiform finial with turned base and corkscrew flame. The moldings which frame the cutouts match the profile of the lower portion of the crown molding and are joined to it in seams in the quarter round termini, the proper left of which is repaired. Below are thumb-molded scroll-board plaques. The single-board pediment back is attached to the top board of the upper case with rosehead nails through a half-lap joint. The upper-case back consists of three horizontal boards, half-lapped together and fixed to the rabbeted case sides with brads and rosehead nails. The single-board upper-case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides, to which is nailed with brads a single-piece rabbeted waist molding. The top and bottom rails and drawer dividers all join their respective frame members with half-blind dovetail joints. Above the upper, small drawers are transverse cleats which keep them from tipping forward when open. The small drawers also have longitudinal and transverse supports half-lapped to each other. The stile between the small drawers is dovetailed to the scroll board above and the drawer divider below. The upper-case drawers have later full-depth drawer supports attached to the case sides with modern screws and washers. The joint between the bottom rail and the case bottom is reinforced by three rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The two small and three long graduated drawers of the upper case have lipped, thumb-molded drawer fronts attached to their sides with dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. Some of the dovetail joints are reinforced with later nails. The tops of the drawer sides are arched and just shy of the fronts, which have prominent kerf marks. The tops of the drawer backs are flat with chamfered backs and corners. The drawer bottoms, parallel to the drawer fronts, are chamfered at the front, where they sit in grooves, and at the sides, where they are held in with applied runners. The bottoms are nailed up into the drawer backs with brads. The single-board scallop-skirted back of the lower case is dovetailed (some tails are reinforced with nails) to the two-board, scallop-skirted case sides, and has three screw pockets across the top. The top rail of the lower case exhibits signs of repair and is nailed into the rabbeted top at the case sides. Set in grooves in the top rail and backboard and nailed with brads into the case sides are boards to support the upper case. Below them are multiple rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The drawer divider below is notched at the ends to receive drawer supports for the upper drawer and notched in the middle to receive the glue blocks/stiles between the small drawers, into which are tenoned drawer guides, reinforced with later nails from above. The drawer guides are accompanied by later vertical triangular glue blocks behind the skirt. Small-drawer supports, dovetailed to the front skirt, are reinforced with later nails, and supports and guides which are set into grooves in the backboards are fastened there with screws and brads. Drawer guides for the sides of the drawers near the case sides rest on the vertical glue blocks for the legs. The lower case contains one large and three small drawers, above a scalloped skirt centering a carved shell. The cabriole legs are of the "detachable" sort, held into the lower case corners with later vertical rectangular glue blocks. The sharp-kneed legs are carved with stylized acanthus leaves which continue onto the glued-on knee brackets. The legs have vigorously carved tendons, claws, and talons grasping elongated ball feet. The rear legs, similarly held within the case, are uncarved at the knees, which project beyond the case back and end in raised pad feet. Examined by P. E. Kane and W. S. Braznell, August 21, 2012; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd

Bibliography

"Leigh Keno American Furniture advertisement," Antiques 136, no. 4 (October 1989): 675, ill.
Dean F. Failey, Long Island Is My Nation: The Decorative Arts and Craftsmen, 1640–1830 (Cold Spring, N.Y.: Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, 1998), 9-42, no. 58A, ill.
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), 58n25.