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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF1248

Maker

Maker Jonathan Swett, possibly born 1720, worked 1753-1774

Dimensions

Overall: 107.95 x 91.758 x 48.578cm (42 1/2 x 36 1/8 x 19 1/8in.)

Date

1753

Current location

C. L. Prickett, Inc.

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (exterior drawer linings, backboards, bottom board, glue blocks between bottom rail and bottom board, backing of the drawer dividers, supports for the lopers, board below desk interior, board at the back of the case supporting the well); yellow poplar (interior drawer linings, bottoms of valance drawers); possibly cedrilla (sides and backs of the valance drawers, the locks inside the top drawer, glue blocks on the feet); pine (drawer support)

Marks

"Made by Jonathan Swett in / Newport Rhode Island 1753" engraved on a boxwood rectangle set inside the lid

Inscriptions

"Mary / 2287 West 29th / Los Angeles / Cal," in graphite, on exterior of proper-left side of interior drawer 7; "))," in chalk, on exterior back of interior drawer 6; numbers 1 through 9, in chalk, on interior backs of interior drawers; numbers 1 through 6, in chalk, on interior backs of valance drawers; "A[?]," "B," "C[?]," and "D," in chalk, on interior backs of exterior drawers (only the "B" and "D" are clearly legible); later graphite numbers on bottoms of interior and valance drawers

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Varrick Stout, Greenwich, Connecticut, and Hobe Sound, Florida, by 1955. Private collection, by 1987. Sotheby's, New York, September 27, 2011, lot 75; sold to C. L. Prickett, Inc., Yardley, Pennsylvania

Associated names

Andrew Varick Stout
Sotheby's

Construction

The single-board top is attached to the single-board sides with a half-blind dovetail joint, which includes finely cut, narrow-necked pins and a half-pin in front. The outside edges of the case sides, both diagonal and horizontal, are slightly chamfered. The thumb-molded, three-piece lid wings on two sets of brass hinges and is assembled in the "breadboard" fashion, with a large horizontal board tenoned into flanking vertical boards. The tenon is visible at the bottom when the lid is closed. The interior consists of a shell-carved and concave-blocked prospect door concealing a pair of arched valances above two open compartments above a concave-blocked small drawer, flanked by three concave, half round blocked valance drawers over open compartments separated by shaped stiles, over convex-blocked small drawers, each flanked by banks of three concave-blocked small drawers, the top ones fan-carved. The interior has a molded base above a well, thumb-molded at the edge, and fitted with a sliding lid carved with a crescent-shaped finger hole. The small drawers feature dovetail joints with finely cut pins, with half-pins above and half-pins and rabbets below. The drawer sides have chamfered tops. Their drawer backs have tops chamfered at the back. The small drawer bottoms are nailed with a brad to the drawer front and glued to the sides and backs. The case back consists of three horizontal boards set into rabbets in the top and sides, to which they are attached with rosehead nails. The lower backboard is nailed directly to the single-board case bottom, which is joined to the case sides with dovetails. The case contains a top rail and three drawer dividers joined to the case sides with half-blind dovetails. The half-height lopers which support the lid have thumb-molded fronts, dowel stops and supports attached with rosehead nails to the case sides. The bottom rail fits into a groove in the case sides. Each drawer has full-depth supports secured with rosehead nails to the case sides. The case contains four lipped, thumb-molded graduated long drawers, the upper one fitted with two wood mechanical locking devices. The drawer fronts have dovetail joints with finely cut pins and half-pins above, half-pins with rabbets below. The drawer sides have chamfered tops, shy of the drawer fronts. The drawer back tops are chamfered at the rear. The single-board drawer bottoms are chamfered at the front and sides and run parallel to the drawer front, into which they are set in a groove. They are attached to the drawer backs with brads. The attachment of drawer bottom to drawer side is concealed by runners. The front feet have two large, shaped glue blocks, mitered and glued directly to the case bottom. Below these are shaped vertical blocks, and the mitered, ogee bracket feet are glued to them all. The rear feet have simple chamfered horizontal glue blocks at the back, and diagonal back brackets, which are faced with ogee mahogany blocks and let into grooves in the side-facing brackets. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, August 12, 2011; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "Discoveries in Newport Furniture and Silver," Antiques 68, no. 1 (July 1955): 47, fig. 8.
Jeanne Vibert Sloane, "John Cahoone and the Newport Furniture Industry," Old-Time New England 72 (1987): 102, fig. 3.
Lita Solis-Cohen, "American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver," Maine Antique Digest (December 2011): 22-C.
Sotheby's, New York, American Paintings, Furniture, Folk Art and Silver, sale cat. (September 27, 2011), lot 75.