image of object
Photo: Courtesy The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Bayou Bend Collection, Gift of Miss Ima Hogg
Click the image to enlarge

Bureau table


Object number

RIF234

Maker

Maker: probably made by Thomas Spencer, 1752 - 1840

Dimensions

80.01 x 93.345 x 52.705 cm (31 1/2 x 36 3/4 x 20 3/4 in.)

Date

1780–1785

Current location

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Geography

Probably made in Providence, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Mahogany [genus Cedrela] (writing board frame and primary); eastern white pine (later foot blocks and drawer supports); soft maple (cabinet partitions, panel beneath top drawer, rear rail support for top drawer); chestnut (drawer sides and bottoms); and yellow poplar (secondary)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“A,” in graphite, on interior back of top drawer; "Tos. Spencer 1764 / Reichhold & Knoblock 1876 Repaired," in graphite, on exterior back of top drawer; letter [probably “A”], in graphite, on top of divider under top drawer; “1,” in graphite, on front interior sides of small proper-right drawers; “B 1,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right middle drawer; “C 1,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-right bottom drawer; “2,” in graphite, on front interior sides of small proper-left drawers; “B 2,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left middle drawer; “C 2,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left lower drawer; “C” or “C 2,” in graphite, on front rail under proper-left lower drawer; later numbers [probably 19th century], in graphite, on small drawers and on drawer dividers; "A. W. Mende 1943," inscribed, on a bottom drawer

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

By tradition, John Brown (1736–1803), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter, Mrs. John Francis (née Abigail Brown, born 1766); by descent to her son, John Brown Francis (1791–1864); by descent to his daughter, Mrs. Marshall Woods (née Ann Francis, 1828–1896); by descent to her daughter, Mrs. Samuel Abbot (née Abby Woods, 1849–1895); by descent to her daughter, Mrs. John O. Ames (née Madeleine Abbot,1876–unknown); by descent to her sister, Mrs. Charles Kilvert, Sr., (née Anne Abbot, 1879–unknown); by descent to her son, Charles A. Kilvert, Jr.; consigned to Christie's, New York, June 12, 1982, lot 198; sold to Mr. and Mrs. James L. Britton, Jr., Houston; given to Bayou Bend, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1992

Associated names

John Brown
Abby Brown Francis 1766-1821
John Brown Francis
Ann Francis Woods
Abby Woods Abbot
Madeleine Abbot Ames
Ann Abbot Kilvert
Charles A. Kilvert , Jr.
Christie's
James L. Britton, Jr.

Construction

The true top is nailed from below to a sub top of longitudinal boards at the rear and front of the case; additional boards abut the lower surface of the longitudinal boards and are nailed to the case sides. The joint of the longitudinal boards to the true top is reinforced with glue blocks along the edges of the longitudinal boards. The vertical blocks for the feet are triangular and rest on horizontal blocks, one pair of which is mitred and the others abut; all of the horiztonal blocks may be replace. The rear brackets for the back feet have a serpentine outline and are nailed to the underside of the bottom board and fit in slots in the back feet. A filler is in place on the sides between the front and back feet. The drawer bottoms are quite thick, are usually two-piece, and run from side to side. They are chamfered on the front and sides and let into grooves in the drawer sides and are nailed to the drawer backs. The drawer sides have rounded top edges that are nearly flush with the drawer front and the top of the drawer back is flat. The drawer dividers are dovetailed to the case sides with exposed dovetails. The case bottom is recessed below the bottom two drawers. The cupboard section has two shelves.

Bibliography

"Christie's advertisement," Antiques 121, no. 6 (June 1982): 1233, ill.
Christie's, New York, Important American Furniture, Silver, and Decorative Arts, sale cat. (June 12, 1982), 94–95, lot 198, ill.
David B. Warren, "The Reopening of the Bayou Bend in Houston, Texas," Antiques 144, no. 3 (September 1993): 336, ill.
David B. Warren et al., American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1998), 86-87, no. F139, 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), 360, no. 75, fig. 2.