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Photo: Courtsey The Cleveland Museum of Art. Gift of Moselle Taylor Meals 1976.170
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF1844

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

234.316 x 108.585 x 62.23 cm (92 1/4 x 42 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.)

Date

1790–1810

Current location

Cleveland Museum of Art

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (glides on drawer dividers, vertical battens to align bonnet with the upper case, and sides of base platform); white pine (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"x," in graphite, at center exterior backs of some drawers; "x," in chalk, on back of one lower case drawer; "2" and "3," in graphite on top of drawer dividers lower case; "Top," in chalk, on top of upper case; "B," in chalk on underside of lower case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Possibly Nicholas Brown (1729–1791), Providence, Rhode Island, or more likely his son, Nicholas Brown, Jr., (1769–1841), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his son, John Carter Brown (1797–1874), and wife, Sophia Augusta Brown (née Browne, 1825–1909), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to their daughter, Mrs. William Watts Sherman (née Sophia Augusta Brown, 1855–1926), Newport and Providence, Rhode Island; by inheritance to her granddaughter, The Hon. Mrs. Charles Donald Leslie Pepys (née Pamela Sophia Nadine Stonor, 1917–2005), London, England and Newport, Rhode Island. Florene Maine Antiques, Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sold at auction to Mrs. Moselle Taylor Meals, ca. 1972; given to The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, 1976

Associated names

Nicholas Brown
Nicholas Brown, Jr.
John Carter Brown
Sophia Augusta Brown
Sophia Augusta Brown Sherman
The Hon. Pamela Sophia Nadine Stonor Pepys
Florene Maine Antiques
Moselle Taylor Meals

Construction

The roof of the removable bonnet consists of multiple transverse boards, half-lapped together, and nailed to the two-board back, the side boards, the scroll board and the boards which comprise the walls of the central void, with brads and rosehead nails. The back is dovetailed to the side boards, to which are nailed and glued a five-part architectural cornice. The sides and front of the bonnet frame are rabbeted to fit upon the upper case below, and there are four vertical battens, two attached to the scroll board, and two to the backboard, with two screws apiece, which fit into slots in the top board of the upper case. Four large vertical glue blocks occupy the corners of the bonnet's interior. The central void of the pediment is revealed within as a rectilinear box, attached at the front with chamfered glue blocks, centering a block, revealed without as a molded and fluted (at the front only) plinth, supporting a carved and fluted (unfluted at the rear) urn-form finial, whose corkscrew shaped top is held thereto by a brass spike. The upper-case top is a single board, dovetailed to the single-board sides. The top rail of the upper case is dovetailed to the side boards, and is solid-cockbeaded and lap-jointed to the case sides, as are all the upper-case drawer dividers below. The drawer dividers are approximately half the depth of the drawers themselves. The front third of them is mahogany. Full-depth drawer guides are nailed with rosehead nails into the case sides and there are full-depth drawer supports let into the case back. Thin rectangular drawer glides are nailed to the tops of the mahogany fronts of the convex portion of the drawer dividers. The upper-case back consists of three horizontal boards nailed together through lapped joints, chamfered at the top and sides, nailed with t-heads, and set into a rabbet at the sides, and nailed directly to the case top and bottom. Both upper and lower cases have fluted quarter columns at their exterior front corners, nailed with brads into the corner posts. Molding at the bottom of the upper case fits into a rabbeted molding at the top of the bottom case. The two-board lower-case top is dovetailed to the vertical single-board sides. The lower-case back consists of two horizontal boards, nailed together through a lapped joint, chamfered at the top and sides, nailed with t-heads and set into a rabbet at the sides and nailed directly to the lower-case top and bottom. The drawer sides have very slightly rounded tops. The drawer back tops are square. The dovetails are small neat triangles, with half-pins above. The upper drawer-fronts exhibit deep kerf marks and are virtually flush with the drawer sides. The lower drawer-fronts have very small kerf marks and are set above the drawer sides. Drawer bottoms are two-piece and perpendicular to the front, set into grooves in the drawer fronts and sides, and nailed with rosehead nails to the back. There are blocks attached with brads to the joints between drawer front and bottom, and glue blocks along the drawer runners, which are cut on the diagonal at the back. The drawer fronts each have a single lamination behind the central, concave portion. The lamination at the lower drawer of the upper section is attached with t-head nails, as are the laminations behind the convexly carved shells. The base molding is attached in front to the recessed lower-case bottom with three screw pockets. The feet are attached to the base with one screw pocket at each bracket. The shaped blocks behind are nailed with rosehead nails, as are the brackets at the backside of the rear legs, which are simply diagonal and incurvate, and slotted into the sides of the rear feet. Examined by P. E. Kane, October 17, 2011; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

"Florene Maine Antiques advertisement," Connoisseur 172, no.693 (November 1969): CCV, ill.
Jairus B. Barnes and Moselle Taylor Meals, American Furniture in the Western Reserve, exh. cat. (Cleveland: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1972), 69, no. 65, ill.
Sarah Sherrill, "Current and Coming," Antiques 101, no. 5 (May 1972): 766, ill.
Henry H. Hawley, "A Townsend-Goddard Chest-on-Chest," Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art 64, no.8 (October 1977): 276–83, fig. 1, 3, 4, and 5.
Wendy A. Cooper and Tara L. Gleason, "A Different Rhode Island Block-and-Shell Story: Providence Provenances and Pitch-Pediments," American Furniture (1999): 167–168, 199, 201, figs. 5, 54, 56.
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), 321–322, no. 63.