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Photo: Courtesy Christie's, New York
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Desk and bookcase


Object number

RIF3362

Maker

Maker Unknown
Maker formerly attributed John Carlile, Jr., 1762 - 1832; worked 1781 - 1830

Dimensions

236.856 x 106.68 x 60.96 cm (93 1/4 x 42 x 24 in.)

Date

1775–1795

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (drawer linings, backboards, brackets for rear feet); pine (case bottom, top of desk, drawer supports, bonnet back, blocks behind the rear feet brackets, frame on which the feet rest, blocks on feet)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

An "X" sometimes with a number in graphite on the backs of most exterior and interior drawers. "D 82" in graphite inside the bottom of one of the larger interior drawers. An "X" sometimes with a number in chalk on some of the drawer dividers.

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Nicholas Power (1742–1808), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter Rebecca Tillinghast (née Power, 1768–1860), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to her daughter Mary Anne Beale (née Tillinghast, 1827–1918), Philadelphia; by descent to her daughter Emily Power Hare (née Beale, died 1935), Philadelphia; by descent to her son Horace Binney Hare (1876–1956), Radnor, Pennsylvania; by descent to his daughter Ellen Mary Cassatt Meigs (née Hare), Radnor, Pennsylvania; consigned by her estate to Christie's, New York, October 3, 2007, lot 107

Associated names

Nicholas Power
Rebecca Power Tillinghast
Mary Ann (Tillinghast) Beale
Emily Power (Beale) Hare
Horace Binney Hare
Ellen Mary Cassatt (Hare) Meigs

Construction

The roof of the bookcase section consists of thin boards shaped to align with the serpentine pediment and nailed with brads into the tops of the scrollboard, the upper case back, and the vertical wall of the rectangular well behind the pediment. Within this well the walls are nailed with brads to the edges of the backboards. Shaped blocks with chamfered edges at the top of each end of the scrolling pediment are nailed with brads into the vertical walls, and the returning beaded-cove crown molding is nailed into the blocks. At the center in front of the wall stands the vasiform upright support, with a rectangular, chamfered-edge top, for the turned and flamed-carved finial. A block behind the support, nailed to it with brads, has chamfered edges. Rectangular voids at the outside front corners of the roof boards indicate the former presence of plinth blocks. The crown molding is applied to the single-board scrollboard and bookcase-sides with rosehead nails on its upper face and brads on its front face. The top boards of the bookcase back mimic the shape of the pediment, and are nailed into vertical elements within the pediment and rabbets in the case sides. Of the two half-lapped boards below, the upper one is nailed into a horizontal element within the pediment, and they are both nailed into rabbets in the case sides. The sides of the lower back boards are slightly chamfered; the lower board is also nailed into the upper-case bottom. The rails of the arched, lipped, thumb-molded bookcase doors are tenoned and wood-pinned to the stiles. Atop the interior are arched, concave tympana above two vertical dividers with scrolling tops and sides routed for adjustable shelves. The case sides are also routed to support shelves. The bottom board of the bookcase section has some transverse blocks. The two-board desk top is framed by a small molding applied with brads. The back consists of two horizontal half-lapped boards nailed with brads into rabbets in the single-board case sides. Nail holes in the desk top rabbet indicate that the upper backboard was formerly attached to it, now no longer, due to the backboard?s shrinkage. The lipped, thumb-molded lid, with three pairs of brass hinges, is assembled in the "breadboard" manner, with a single large horizontal board tenoned into two narrow, flanking vertical boards. The interior contains a small concave-blocked, shell-carved prospect drawer flanked by valanced compartments separated by scalloped uprights, with one small and four longer straight-fronted drawers below, above two longer, ogee-fronted drawers. The kerf-marked small drawer fronts meet their flat-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints, having somewhat thick-necked, well cut pins with half-pins above and half-pins with rabbets below. The tops of the sides are just barely shy of the drawer front tops. The back of the drawer-back tops are slightly chamfered, as are the outside upper rear corners. Some drawer bottoms are parallel, some perpendicular to their fronts; all are full-width and full-depth and nailed with brads to the elements above. Within the case below are a top rail and drawer dividers half-blind dovetailed into the case sides. Behind the dividers are drawer supports fixed to the case sides with rosehead nails. The full-height lopers have molded fronts. The stiles which enclose them are set into grooves in the neighboring rails, and the loper guides within the case also serve as drawer guides for the upper drawer. The bottom rail is set into grooves in the case sides. The lipped, thumb-molded, and graduated desk drawer fronts meet their flat-topped drawer sides in dovetail joints, having small, well-cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above. The drawer-side tops are just shy of the drawer-front tops. The single-board drawer bottoms, slightly chamfered at front and sides, are parallel to the drawer fronts, to which are nailed with brads. The connection between drawer bottom and side is concealed by applied runners. A base molding is applied to the bottom of the case with wood-filled fasteners. The connection between the lower case and the two-board case bottom is obscured by a frame, mitered at the front corners and butt-jointed at the back, nailed with rosehead nails to all four sides of the bottom, but open at the middle of the back. The feet consist of shaped vertical blocks, attached to the bottom of this frame, and flanked by shaped horizontal blocks, the whole faced with ogee brackets. The rear feet differ in having rectangular horizontal blocks at the back, to which are attached simple straight angled brackets, secured at the back with small vertical blocks. The proper right vertical block is missing. Examined by P.E. Kane, October 4, 2007; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

See also


Bibliography

Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Prints Including American Folk Art from the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia, sale cat. (October 3, 2007), 104–7, lot 107, 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), 243n1.