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Photo: Courtesy Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Del., 1959.2646
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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF1229

Maker

Maker attributed John Goddard, 1723/24–1785

Dimensions

Height (with finials): 248.603 cm (97 7/8 in.); Height, case: 238.443 cm (93 7/8 in.); Width, cornice: 108.585 cm (42 3/4 in.); Width, upper case: 101.6 cm (40 in.); Width, lower case: 107.315 cm (42 1/4 in.); Width, feet: 115.253 cm (45 3/8 in.); Depth, cornice: 35.56 cm (14 in.); Depth, upper case: 30.48 cm (12 in.); Depth, lower case: 60.643 cm (23 7/8 in.) Other (Depth (feet)): 64.77cm (25 1/2in.)

Date

1760–1785

Current location

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); red cedar (backboard of bookcase, interior dividers of bookcase, sliding panel of bookcase, and linings of interior drawers); maple (board behind scrollboard, drawer divider backings, and blocks supporting lopers); pine (backboard of desk, bottom of small desk drawer, bonnet board, and backings of quarter columns); yellow poplar (replacement long drawer sides, backs and bottoms, and board under desk interior)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“I,” incised on top of drawer front, proper-right upper interior drawer; “II,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-right middle interior drawer; “III,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-right lower interior drawer; “IV,” incised on top of drawer front, interior drawer to proper-right of prospect; “V,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, upper prospect drawer; “VI,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, middle prospect drawer; “VII,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, lower prospect drawer; “VIII,” incised on top of drawer front, interior drawer to proper-left of prospect; “IX,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-left upper interior drawer; “X,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-left middle interior drawer; “I,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-right valance drawer; “II,” incised on top of drawer front and interior drawer back, proper-right middle valance drawer; “V,” incised on interior drawer back, proper-left valance drawer; “VI,” incised on interior drawer back, proper-left middle valance drawer; “A,” in graphite, on upper surface of drawer divider under top exterior drawer; “V,” in graphite, on upper surface of drawer divider under lower drawer; “John C. / [illegible letter] [probably later],” in graphite, on interior surface of flat board of bonnet; "Bottom," in chalk, on underside of top section and on underside of bottom board of lower section; "Aday?/Back," in chalk, on the backboard of the bonnet

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Lodowick Updike II (1725–1804), Wickford, Rhode Island; by descent to his son, Wilkins Updike (1784–1867); by descent to his daughter, Mrs. Henry Hidden (née Abigail Updike); by descent to her son, Walter Hidden; by descent to his daughter, Mrs. Howard Lee (née Mary Hidden); by descent to her son, Walter Hidden (his name was legally changed from Lee to Hidden, died 1929), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his wife Mrs. Walter Hidden (died 1950), Providence; sold to Henry Francis du Pont (1880 –1969), Winterthur, Delaware, 1932; given to Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 1960

Associated names

Lodowick Updike
Wilkins Updike
Abigail Updike Hidden
Walter Hidden
Mary Hidden Lee
Walter Hidden II
Mrs. Walter Hidden
Henry Francis du Pont

Construction

(Upper case) The basic unit is composed of sides with laminated top and bottom boards (thinner cedar on full thickness maple) half-blind dovetailed to the sides. The bonnet is attached to a foundation of two heavy front-to-back pine glue blocks secured at the upper edges of the sides with glue and wrought nails. The back of the bonnet is enclosed with a horizontally oriented piece of maple. The front is enclosed with a complex laminated unit composed of an outer tympanum of 1/4" mahogany glued to a heavier 5/8" maple board; the circular cutouts are built up behind with a thick pine blocking cut to the circular openings and faced on the curved surface with thin mahogany veneer. Finally, the cutout area is backed, or closed, with 1/2" maple, stained to match. Attached to the face of the tympanum and conforming to the shape of the bonnet is a pair of double applied plaques, circular moldings outlining the cutouts, and the carved cyma-curve cornice molding. The straight side cornice is nailed to the side. The top of the bonnet is enclosed with thin tulip boards nailed in place. The replacement plinths and finials are attached to the top front corners and center of the bonnet. The engaged columns and front stiles are attached to heavy pine glue blocks that are secured to the sides of the case with glue and wrought nails. The stop-fluted column was turned in three sections: shaft, plinth, and cap. The replacement midmolding is applied to the front and sides, extending 3/4" below the bottom board, thus forming a lip that originally positioned the upper case of the three cleats glued to the top board of the desk section. The interior is divided vertically intro three sections and has fixed shelves. The interior shelves and thin vertical dividers (front edges are double-beaded) slide into grooves from the back; the vertical dividers, shaped on the leading edge, can be adjusted. The space behind the columns and door stiles is enclosed with thin cedar panels, which slide in from the front, thus forming secret compartments. On the proper right side two shelf grooves were cut by mistake--laid out from the wrong end of the side board--and filled, possibly providing a motive for the creation of these enclosed compartments. The vertically oriented backboards are lapped and secured in a rabbet all around with wrought nails. The two outer doors are frame-and-panel construction with double tenons at the top; the convex panels and carved shells are separate pieces and applied to the face of the frame (from the inside, screws secure the shell and quarter-round molding on the panel). The center concave door with carved shell was cut from solid wood and reinforced on the back with a 1/8" mahogany board. The center door is hinged to the door on the left. (Lower case) The top and bottom boards are half-blind dovetailed to the sides. The fall-front is solid with batten ends and thumbnail-molded edge; the central concave shell is carved from solid wood, and the flanking convex shells and blocked panels are made in two pieces and applied to the front. All edges have repairs; the hinges have been replaced. When the fall-front is open, the top drawer can be accessed through an opening (well) in the writing surface made of a thin panel that slides in grooves of the mortise-and-tenoned frame construction on three slides. The bottom board of the interior compartment is maple faced with mahogany, molded to echo the shaping of the blocked section above (which follows the shape of the facade). The vertical and horizontal dividers of the five part interior are slid in from the back and have rounded front edges. The interior drawer slides are half-blind dovetailed to the front and full dovetailed at the back. The bottoms of all but the valance drawers are set into rabbets in the front and glued up to the sides and back; the valance drawer bottoms are set into a groove in the front and rabbets on the sides and back and glued. All drawer blades are maple (approx. 3 3/4" deep) edged with 1 3/4" mahogany (cock-beaded), and half-blind dovetailed to the sides. The front base molding (rabbeted on the lower back edge) laps over the leading edge of the bottom board; the bottom blade sits on the top of the base molding and is dovetailed to the sides in the same manner as the upper blades. Cock-beading is applied to the sides of the case and to the underside of the writing surface. Replacement runners are secured to the sides of the case with modern screws. All drawer fronts are blocked and cut from solid mahogany. The bottoms are set into grooves on the side and rabbets in the front and nailed to the underside of the backs. The two bottoms drawers are conventionally dovetailed (half-blind dovetailed in front, fully dovetailed in the back). The construction of the top drawer is different to accommodate the lopers. In order that the facade of the top drawer remain uninterrupted and hence consistent with the lower drawers, there are no loper dividers; the lopers ride in cutout maple blocking in the interior. Hence, the drawer sides are set in to accommodate the maple blocking and are attached to the drawer front with vertical sliding dovetails. The resulting end lip of the drawer front is cut out around the loper. The horizontal backboards (three) are nailed into rabbets on the top and sides. Replaced feet; new exterior drawer linings, waist moldings, and finials; missing original bookcase partitions. Source: Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur, (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 441–442.

Notes

This example is one of nine Rhode Island blockfront desk and bookcases onamented with six shells.

See also


Bibliography

Mabel M. Swan, "The Goddard and Townsend Joiners, Part II," Antiques 49, no. 5 (May 1946): 293, fig. 3.
Joseph Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods in the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum (New York: MacMillan Company, 1952), no. 232, ill.
Wendell D. Garrett, "The Newport Cabinetmakers: A Corrected Checklist," Antiques 73, no. 6 (June 1958): 558.
Peter Mooz, "The Origins of Newport Block-Front Furniture Design," Antiques 99, no. 6 (June 1971): 885, fig. 6.
William S. Ayres, Contrasts: Philadelphia and Newport Furniture Styles, 1755–1780, exh. cat. (Wilmington, Del.: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, 1982), 71, fig. 11.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 318–319, fig. 8.12, 8.12a–c.
Sarah Sherrill, "Current and Coming," Antiques 128, no. 1 (July 1985): 68.
Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 439–442, no. 207, ill.
Brock Jobe, "The Lisle Desk-and-Bookcase: A Rhode Island Icon," American Furniture (2001): 124–125, 144, fig. 7–8, 41.
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), 58n15, 301nn1, 2, 6, 313n1.