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Photo: Courtesy The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Mich., 29.726.5
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Dressing table


Object number

RIF1535

Maker

Maker Unknown
Maker attributed Job Townsend, Sr., 1699 - 1765

Dimensions

30 1/2 x 33 1/4 x 23 3/8 in. (77.47 x 84.455 x 59.373 cm)

Date

1740–1760

Current location

The Henry Ford

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (supports for upper drawer and guides for lower drawer); chestnut (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Illegible graphite, in proper-right interior side of upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-right drawer

Style

Queen Anne

Provenance

Brenton family, Newport, Rhode Island; sold to Israel Sack, Inc., Boston; sold to The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan, 1929

Associated names

Brenton family
Israel Sack, Inc.

Construction

The rectangular, two-board, highly figured oblong top is molded on its front and side edges and has a square back edge slightly overhanging the backboard. There are four small rectangular blocks glued to the underside of the top near its center to repair a now-filled crack. The top is secured to its case by screwpockets at the inside face of the backboard and in the underside of the top rail, and by glueblocks behind the top rail and at the joints between the top and the case sides and the top and the backboard. The single-board, straight-skirted backboard meets the scallop-skirted, single-board case sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and below. The inside ends of the skirt-board are rabbeted to receive glue blocks for the front legs. The joints between the case sides and the front stiles are concealed by the vertical strips at the case front, continuous from the underside of the top to the top of each leg. Within the case are supports for the long drawer, set into grooves in the backboard and half-lapped to the drawer divider. Drawer guides are glued to the tops of these supports. Further guides are fixed to the inside of the case sides above these guides. Supports for the two lower drawers are set into grooves in the backboard and half-lapped to the top of the skirtboard at the drawer openings. Vertically arranged small-drawer guides are set into grooves in the backboard and half-blind dovetailed to the scalloped, shell-carved skirtboard. The guides also support the drawer-divider above. The lipped long-drawer front meets its slightly shorter, slightly round-topped sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, thin-necked pins, tails now reinforced with nails, and half-pins above. The drawer bottom consists of three boards, perpendicular to the front. The narrow, proper left board is of later date. The bottom is chamfered at the front, where it fits into the groove in the drawer front, and at the sides, where it is nailed with brads to the drawer sides above under full-depth runners. The small drawers below are configured similarly, except for the flat, single-board bottoms, which fit into rabbets in the drawer fronts and are nailed with brads there and to the drawer sides and backs. The tops of the joints between the drawer backs and sides bear diagonal scribe lines. The angular, square-sectioned cabriole legs are of the ?detachable? sort, each containing screws indicating old repairs. They are held in place with mostly later vertical chamfered glue blocks. The ankles and the tops of the slipper feet are ridged; the heels are rounded. The knee brackets are held on with nails and glue, and the rear legs project beyond the face of the backboard. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, August 6, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Donald A. Shelley, "Henry Ford and the Museum: The Furniture," Antiques 73, no. 2 (February 1958): 157, fig. 18.
Robert Bishop, How to Know American Antique Furniture (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1973), 46–47, fig. 43.
Katharine Bryant Hagler, American Queen Anne Furniture: 1720–1755, exh. cat. (Dearborn, Mich.: The Edison Institute, 1976), 24, ill.
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), 204n4.