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Photo: Courtesy Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Del., 1957.1394
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF1432

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

Height, case to scroll top: 231.141cm (91in.); Width, cornice: 102.553 cm (40 3/8 in.); Width, upper case: 91.123 cm (35 7/8 in.); Width, lower case: 95.25 cm (37 1/2 in.); Width, feet: 102.235 cm (40 1/4 in.); Depth, cornice: 55.88 cm (22 in.); Depth, upper case: 49.53 cm (19 1/2 in.); Depth, lower case: 51.118 cm (20 1/8 in.) Other (Depth, feet): 54.928cm (21 5/8in.)

Date

1775–1790

Current location

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (drawer runners, bonnet boards, drawer linings, backboards in lower case and two lower backboards in upper case, board under bonnet, and one board of dust board under top drawer); white pine group (top backboard upper case, top board lower case, backing of drawer dividers, drawer supports, interior glue blocks, one board of dust board under top drawer, and vertical braces flanking board under bonnet)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“X,” incised on exterior back of proper-right upper drawer; “XI,” incised on exterior back of proper-left upper drawer; “X,” in chalk, on exterior backs of long drawers of upper case; “1” through “5,” in chalk, on tops of dividers of upper case; “X1” through “X4,” in chalk, on exterior back of drawers of lower case [top to bottom]; “3,” in chalk, on divider under top drawer of lower case; “X” then “2” through “7,” in graphite, on tops of dividers under long drawers of upper and lower cases [markings appear twice on each divider and are probably not original]; sketch of the back of a shield-back federal-style chair, in chalk, on exterior bottom of top drawer of lower case; "Bottom / xx," in chalk, on underside of upper case; "Bottom," in chalk, on underside of lower case; "XI" or "IX," incised on right side of bonnet top

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Joseph Brown (1733–1785), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter Mrs. Richard Ward (née Elizabeth "Eliza" Brown, 1769–1845), Providence, and New York. Mrs. Henry W. Burnett, Providence; sold to Mrs. John R. Gladding (died 1939), Providence, and East Thompson, Connecticut 1922; bequeathed to Mrs. Henry W. Burnett. William B. Spooner, Jr., Providence, 1941. Joe Kindig, Jr. (1898–1971), York, Pennsylvania; sold to Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969), Winterthur, Delaware, 1944; bequeathed to Winterthur Museum, 1969

Associated names

Joseph Brown
Elizabeth Brown Ward
Mrs. Henry W. Burnett
Mrs. John R. Gladding
William B. Spooner Jr.
Joe Kindig, Jr.
Henry Francis du Pont

Construction

(Upper case) The front scrollboard and case sides extend above the elaborate pediment molding, which is nailed to their surfaces creating the illusion of a box pediment. The enclosed bonnet is nailed to a rabbet in the scrollboard and to the upper backboard. The edges of the top boards of the boxes are finished with an applied molding. The circular openings of the scrollboard flanking the central plinth are finished with a face molding. The fluted plinth is reinforced on the back by a long vertical block. The rosettes are carved from solid wood and appear to be one piece with the pediment molding. Inside the case behind the pediment there are vertical glue blocks at each corner and on either side of the central top drawer; the blocks flanking the central drawer are also attached with rosehead nails. Thin vertical partitions framed the front opening for the center top drawer, secured with dovetails and nails. The drawer blades are joined to the one-piece sides on a sliding dovetail, the joints covered by a plain facing strip. The top blade is butted by a thin dust board; the others have a 6" pine backing. Behind the blades, then runners are nailed to the sides of the case. The backboard consists of three horizontal boards, the lower two chamfered and rabbeted together. The entire back unit is rabbeted to the case sides. The two-piece bottom board is dovetailed to the sides and reinforced with framing battens on the bottom. A waist molding is nailed to the lower edge of the case. (Lower case) A second, complex, waist molding is nailed to the upper edge of the case. The top and bottom boards are dovetailed to the sides. The rails and blades are dovetailed to the case sides, the joints covered by plain facing strips. Internal runners are nailed to the sides of the case (reversed because of wear). The two lapped horizontal boards of the backboard are rabbeted to the case sides and attached with rosehead nails. The bottom molding is nailed to the case. The blocked-ogee front foot facings and brackets are mitered at the corners and glued to vertical support blocks chamfered on the inside. Shaped horizontal glue blocks parallel the front and side brackets. At the back, an ogee-shape bracket is glued to a vertical support block; both the bracket and the rear ogee-carved foot panel are held by a series of horizontal glue blocks. The drawer fronts are lipped and beaded all around. The shells and blocking are formed from solid wood; the area behind the projecting shells is hollowed out to reduce the weight of the drawer. The drawer sides are flat on the upper edge; the backs are chamfered slightly. The dovetails joining the drawer sides to the front and back have unusually thin throats. The drawer bottoms, the grain running front to back, are rebated to the sides, nailed front and back, and further secured by battens. The elaborate pierced hardware is original. Source: Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods(Winterthur, Del.:Winterthur Publications, 1997), 396.

Bibliography

John Cordor The Museologist 155 (Winter 1981): cover, ill.
"Little Known Masterpieces, I. Block-Front Chest-on-Chest," Antiques 1, no. 1 (January 1922): 17-18, ill.
Luke Vincent Lockwood, Colonial Furniture in America, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926), vol. 1, pp. 353, 355, fig. 12.
Edgar G. Miller, American Antique Furniture: A Book for Amateurs, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1937), vol. 1, 483–485, no. 880.
"William B. Spooner, Jr. advertisement," Antiques 40, no. 3 (September 1941): 131, ill.
Joseph Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods in the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum (New York: MacMillan Company, 1952), no. 183, ill.
David Robb, Art in the Western World (rev.ed.) (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1963), 710, ill.
Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury (New York: MacMillan Company, 1963), no. 317, ill.
David Stockwell, "American Blockfront Furniture," America in Britain 9, no.2 (May 1971): 15, ill.
Alice Winchester, "Perspective," Antiques 51, no. 1 (January 1972): 148, ill.
Joseph T. Butler, American Furniture from the First Colonies to World War I (London: Triune Books, 1973), 50.
Doreen Beck, Book of American Furniture (London: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1973), 56, fig. 62.
Julia Raynsford, The Story of Furniture (London: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1975), 78.
Henry H. Hawley, "A Townsend-Goddard Chest-on-Chest," Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art 64, no.8 (October 1977): 278, fig. 2.
Lanto Synge, Furniture in Color (Poole, Eng.: Blanford Press, 1977), 132, fig. 56.
Victoria Kloss Ball, Architecture and Interior Design: Europe and America from the Colonial Era to Today (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1979), 218, fig. 5.43.
Robert Bishop and Patricia Coblentz, American Decorative Arts: Three Hundred Sixty Years of Creative Design (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1982), 107, pl.121, ill.
William S. Ayres, Contrasts: Philadelphia and Newport Furniture Styles, 1755–1780, exh. cat. (Wilmington, Del.: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, 1982), 69, fig. 9.
Oscar P. Fitzgerald, Three Centuries of American Furniture (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1982), 75, fig. IV-49, IV-50.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 35, 336, fig. 1.18, 8.22, 8.22a–b.
Jay E. Cantor, Winterthur (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1985), 148.
Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 394–397, no. 193, ill.
Wendy A. Cooper and Tara L. Gleason, "A Different Rhode Island Block-and-Shell Story: Providence Provenances and Pitch-Pediments," American Furniture (1999): 165, 185, fig. 3, 20.
Wendy A. Cooper, "HF du Pont's Fondness for Furniture: A Collecting Odyssey," Antiques 161, no. 1 (January 2002): 163, pl. X.