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Photo: Courtesy Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Bequest of Commander William Davis Miller, 59.251; photo by Erik Gould
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF1089

Maker

Maker: attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732–1809

Dimensions

218.44 x 114.3 x 62.23 cm (86 x 45 x 24 1/2 in.)

Date

probably 1784

Current location

Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (outer pediment boards); yellow poplar (linings of small drawers of upper case, sides and backs of long drawers of upper case, drawer runners, one tip bar for upper drawers of upper case, horizontal support for upper drawers of upper case, drawer divider backings of upper and lower cases, some drawer supports of upper and lower cases, some drawer guides of upper and lower cases, vertical braces of back of upper and lower cases, sides and backs of drawers of lower case, and bottoms of middle two drawers of lower case); chestnut (bottoms of long drawers of upper case, bottom and top of upper case, blocks behind front rails of upper case, some drawer supports of upper and lower case, one tip bar for upper drawers of upper case, some of drawer guides of upper and lower case, bottoms of top and bottom drawers of lower case, bottom board of lower case, backboards of lower case, horizontal blocks of feet, and brackets of rear feet); maple (spring locks); pine (back boards of upper case and inner pediment boards)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“A” and “B,” in graphite, on interior bottoms of top drawers of upper case; “I,” incised on interior front, back, and sides of drawer marked “B”; “II,” incised on interior front, back, and sides of drawer marked “A”; “1 [later?],” in graphite, on interior bottom of upper long drawer of upper case; “2 [later?],” in graphite, on interior bottom and proper-right side of middle long drawer of upper case; “3[later?],” in graphite, on interior proper-right side of lower drawer of upper case; possibly “43 [later],” in graphite, on exterior back of lower drawer of upper case; “A” and “B,” in graphite, on tops of dividers under small drawers of upper case; mathematical calculations, "W," "M," or "VV" [three times], possible doodle of face, "John Tillinghast," and other illegible words, in graphite, on sub-top of lower case; two columns of mathematical calculations, "March 23 1784 6-9," and probably "g M $ half," in graphite, on exterior back of lower case; “B” and two loops [cut off], “C” and two loops [cut off), and “D XX,” in graphite, on exterior backs of three bottom drawers of lower case [from top to bottom]; “5” and “6” [later?], in graphite, on proper-right interior side to top two drawers of lower case; “6” and “7” [later?], in graphite, on interior backs of bottom two drawers of lower case; “A” and “B,” in graphite, on tops of dividers under top two drawers of lower case; “I,” “II,” and “III” [original?], incised on tops of dividers under top three drawers of lower case; random loops and possibly letters, in graphite, on exterior back of pediment; various doodles and possibly letters, in graphite, on exterior bottom of lower case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Elisha Reynolds Potter (1764–1835), Kingston, Rhode Island; by descent to his son, Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr. (1811–1883), Kingston; by descent to his brother, William H. Potter (1816–1908), Kingston; by descent to his niece, Mary LeMoine Potter (1860–1938), Kingston; by descent to her cousin, Commander William Davis Miller (1887–1959), Wakefield, Rhode Island, by 1936; bequeathed to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1959

Associated names

Judge Elisha Reynolds Potter
Elisha Reynolds Potter, Jr.
William H. Potter
Mary LeMoine Potter
Commander William Davis Miller

Bibliography

"Kingston Mansion is Treasure Trove," Providence Sunday Journal (July 7, 1935): 9, ill.
Christopher P. Monkhouse, "American Furniture Recently Acquired by the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design," Antiques 118, no. 1 (July 1980): 126, pl. 1, ill.
"Museum Notes," Museum Notes (1980): 14, ill.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 166-167, fig. 3.90, 3.90a, 3.9.
Christopher P. Monkhouse and Thomas S. Michie, American Furniture in Pendleton House (Providence: RISD Museum, 1986), 86–87, no. 32, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 138–39, no. 31, ill.
Jack O'Brien, "A New Bedford Masterpiece," Antiques 171, no. 5 (May 2007): 142–143, fig. 9, 9a.