image of object
From: Gronning and Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition,"American Furniture(2013):23
Click the image to enlarge

High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Christopher Townsend, 1701-1787
Maker John Townsend, American, 1732–1809


Height: 88 1/4 in. (224.155 cm) Height, lower case: 38 1/2 in. (97.79 cm) Height, upper case: 49 in. (124.46 cm)


ca. 1755

Current location

Philadelphia Museum of Art


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


Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (backing for muntins and drawer dividers, top of upper case, drawer supports, top of bonnet, and drawer linings); chestnut (blocks under upper case, back of lower case, and some blocks on legs); white pine (back of upper case and pediment and some blocks on legs)


"John T" and "Christopher Townsend," in graphite, on a drawer divider in lower case


"Thos.Robinson" engraved on one brass; "D," "E," and "F," in graphite, on exterior backs of long drawers in upper case; illegible red chalk on undersides of small drawers in upper case; "1" and "2," in red chalk, on two drawer dividers; "B," in graphite, in one deep drawer in lower case; "C," in graphite, on middle drawer in lower case; "M" within loops, in graphite, on back of pediment and of lower case




Possibly Sarah Richardson (1733–1817) and Thomas Robinson (1731–1817), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to their daughter, Mary Robinson (1757–1829) and her husband John Morton (1734–1828), Newport, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia; by descent to their daughter, Esther Morton (1797–1865) and Daniel B. Smith (1792–1883), Haverford, and Germantown, Pennsylvania; by descent to their son, Benjamin Rapier Smith (1825–1904) and Esther Fisher Wharton (1836–1915), Germantown, Pennsylvania; by descent to their son, Edward Wanton Smith (born 1875) and Dorothea Atwater, Germantown, Pennsylvania; by descent to their daughter, Sarah Anne Greene Smith (1905–1997), Philadelphia and Jamestown, Rhode Island; given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1975

Associated names

Thomas Robinson
Sarah Richardson
Mary Robinson
John Morton
Esther Morton
Daniel B. Smith
Benjamin Raper Smith
Esther Fisher Wharton
Edward Wanton Smith
Dorothea Atwater
Sarah A. G. Smith


Two-board sides; front cornice moldings held on with screws; side cornice moldings nailed and plugged; pediment board in two pieces. Examined by P. E. Kane, April 25, 2008. .



Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 184, fig. 3.102, 3.102a–b.
Sotheby's, New York, The Exceptional Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Arnold Mahogany High Chest, sale cat. (January 21, 2012), 14, 16, fig. 7.
Erik Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 22–24, fig. 48–52.
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), 451, 453.