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Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF217

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

108.585 x 115.57 x 66.675 cm (42 3/4 x 45 1/2 x 26 1/4 in.)

Date

1760–1790

Current location

The Stanley Weiss Collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); chestnut (bottom board, backboards, backing of drawer dividers, rear feet brackets, blocks for feet, and supports for lopers); yellow poplar (drawer linings exterior drawers); cedar (drawer linings interior drawers)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"1" to "6," in graphite, on valance drawers from left to right; "2," "2," and "1," in graphite, from top to bottom on proper right interior drawers; "1" and "2," in graphite, on wide interior drawers flanking prospect door; "31," "21," and "11," in graphite, from top to bottom on drawers behind prospect door; "2," "3," and "4," in graphite, from top to bottom on proper left interior drawers; "2," in chalk, on interior front of one interior drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Christie's, New York, January 22–23, 1993, lot 568. G. K. S. Bush, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1993. Robert Isbell, Tampa, Florida, by 2003; consigned to Sotheby's, New York, 19 January 2007, lot 576. Stanley Weiss Collection, Providence, Rhode Island, 2010

Associated names

Christie's
G. K. S. Bush, Inc.
Robert Isbell
Sotheby's

Construction

The top is dovetailed to the two-piece case sides; the projection to cover base of the slant-lid is cut from the solid, not applied. The battens on the slant lid have open tenons near the hinges; three hinges fasten the slant-lid to the writing surface and two locks secure the slant-lid to the desk. Half-blind dovetails fasten the interior drawer fronts to sides with half keys at the top and bottom; the tops of the sides are rounded and a slightly lower than the drawer fronts. The bottoms of the interior drawers are glued to rabbets in all four sides; the grain of the wood runs from side to side. The joint of the drawer dividers and the case sides is covered by an applied facing strip. The ends of the front of the top drawer have cutouts to accommodate the lopers; the faces of the lopers do not have molded edges. The blocking is applied to the three exterior drawers. Half-blind dovetails fasten the drawer fronts to the drawer sides with half keys at the top and bottom; the grain of the wood on the drawer bottoms runs from front to back; the drawer bottoms are chamfered to fit in grooves in the drawer front and sides; the bottoms are nailed to the underside of the drawer back. The three horizontal backboards are half-lapped together and are fastened to rabbets in the case top and side and to the back edge of the bottom board with rosehead nails; screws are visible on the back to hold the prospect cabinet in place. The two-piece case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides. An additional molding is fastened to the base molding between the front feet. Vertical blocks that rest against the case bottom reinforce the feet; horizontal blocks abut them; the blocks are shaped to conform to the ogee shapes of the feet. On the back feet the rear brackets have a serpentine shape on their inner edges; they butt the sides of the back feet and this joint is reinforced at the rear with a vertical block. Examined by D. A. Carr, fall 2003 and P. E. Kane , P. T. Cooper and M. Taradash, January 17, 2007.

Bibliography

"G. K. S. Bush, Inc., advertisement," Antiques 143, no. 5 (May 1993): 641.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (January 22–23, 1993), lot 568.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005), 108.
Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana including Property Approved for Deaccession by the Board of Trustees of Historic Deerfield, Inc., sale cat. (January 19–21, 2007), 372–74, lot 576, ill.
"Item SW00758," http://www.tildenthurber.com/stanleyweiss/pages/items7/sw00758r.html (accessed 2010).