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Photo: Courtesy Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Winterthur, Del., 1951.0032
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High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF286

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

Height, case: 204.788 cm (80 5/8 in.); Width, feet: 103.505cm (40 3/4in.); Width, cornice: 99.695 cm (39 1/4 in.); Width, lower case: 97.314cm (38 5/16in.); Width, upper case: 93.345 cm (36 3/4 in.); Depth, feet: 57.15cm (22 1/2in.); Depth, cornice: 54.134cm (21 5/16in.); Depth, lower case: 53.023cm (20 7/8in.); Depth, upper case: 50.165cm (19 3/4in.)

Date

1755–1775

Current location

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); white pine (backboard); yellow poplar (bonnet board, backing on blades, and drawer bottoms); chestnut (outside drawer guides, center drawer runner, and blocks facing inside of knees, except at left rear)

Inscriptions

On underside of top board in upper section: "Top" in white chalk. On inside back of all long and several short drawers: an arabic number or letter. On outside back of upper right drawer: miscellaneous markings. At center top of lower drawer divider in upper case: "Martha / L Tripp", "Mary / L Tripp", and "T[or F]/ Tripp" written on a diagonal, in black ink. Some of the brass backplates have cast marks "B" and "36" on the reverse side.

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Reverend Solomon Wheaton or his wife Anne Debon, Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to their daughter, Anne Wheaton, Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to her sister, Mrs. David King, Newport, Rhode Island. Malbone Birckhead; by descent to Mrs. Malbone Birckhead, Baltimore; sold to John S. Walton, Inc., New York; sold to Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969), Winterthur, Delaware, 1951; given to the Winterthur Museum, 1951

Associated names

John S. Walton, Inc.
Martha L. Tripp
Reverend Solomon Wheaton
Anne Wheaton
Mrs. David King
Dr. William Birckhead
Malbone Birckhead
Mrs. Malbone Birckhead
Henry Francis du Pont

Construction

The case top and bottom are dovetailed to the sides. The scrollboard is rabbeted to the case sides and to the vertical divider between the top drawers. The center plinth of the scrollboard is reinforced on the back with a conforming glueblock; a small tablet at the top is secured with sprigs. The tablet supports a removable rectangular plinth fluted on the front face only. Its sprigged tablet supports the finial, which is carved with narrow flutes in the urn, except at the center back. The pediment backboard is glued to the case top and further secured inside with glue blocks. Dovetailed battens link the scrollboard and backboard at the pediment top. Heavy battens abutting the scrollboard and case backboard are secured with rosehead nails to the upper case sides below the case top. The pediment molding is applied with small nails to the front of the scrollboard, the upper case sides, and the top battens. The pediment top is nailed to rabbets on the scrollboard and to the top of the backboard. Thumb-molded conforming panels are applied to the face of the scrollboard. The three drawer blades are joined to the case sides with shouldered dovetails. The vertical divider between the top drawers is tenoned to the case top and the upper drawer blade. The bottom rail is slotted into the case sides and reinforced with three glue blocks along the inside edge. The underside of the case is reinforced at both ends with nailed battens running from front to back. The back of the case consists of three lap-joined horizontal boards nailed to rabbets in the case sides. Inside the case beneath the top board, rails reinforce the joints of the top and sides. A batten across the upper back at the level of the top drawer blade is slotted to the case sides. A wide, central vertical batten, which reinforces the backboards, extends from the horizontal batten to the bottom board, passing behind both at notches. Drawer runners are attached to the case sides with rosehead nails. The runner centered between the top small drawers is rabbeted to the top drawer blade and the corresponding batten at the back. A guide is glued and nailed to the top surface. (Lower case) A mitered waist molding, which is nailed to the case front and sides, helps to secure the upper case. There is no top board; the upper case rests on the front rail and backboard of the lower case. The case sides, sawed in curves complementing the front skirt, are dovetailed to the backboard. At the front, the top rail, drawer blade, and skirt are dovetailed to the case sides. Wood strips of horizontal grain face the front corners from skirt to top rail. The shell centered in the skirt is carved from solid wood. The legs, once detachable, continue part way up the interior case as posts and are reinforced with nailed glue blocks. The runners for the top drawer are tenoned to the backboard and rabbeted to the drawer blade. Guides, which are glued to the top surface, are notched and nailed at the front to interior bracing blocks. Runners for the small drawers, which are centered beneath the bottoms, are tenoned to the backboard and lapped and nailed to the front skirt. Outside guides are notched and nailed to blocks securing the leg extensions. The short vertical dividers between the small drawers are slotted and nailed at the top to the underside of the drawer blade and rabbeted and nailed at the bottom to the case skirt, with a rear extension continuing downward below drawer level. The extension is reinforced with flanking glue blocks. Interior drawer guides are tenoned to the backboard and rabbeted and nailed to the vertical dividers. Short interior front corner blocks extend between the drawer blade and the tops of the leg extensions. The knees of the rear legs extend beyond the back of the case. The knee brackets are glued to the leg tops. The talons of the front feet are undercut. The drawers in both cases are finely dovetailed. The sides are rounded at the top edges; the back edges are flat. The grain of the drawer bottoms runs from front to back in the small drawers and from side to side in the large drawers. The bottoms of the drawers in the upper case and the long drawer in the lower case are chamfered on three sides, slotted into the drawer front, and butted to the sides and back. The back is nailed flush; the sides are nailed flush through applied battens. The flat bottoms of the small drawers in the lower case are nailed flush at the sides and back to a rabbet at the front. The drawer fronts, which are thumb molded on four sides, abut the case facade at the sides and top. Source: Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur, (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 341.

Bibliography

Joseph Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods in the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum (New York: MacMillan Company, 1952), no. 191.
John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 122–123, fig. 311.
Nancy E. Richards and Nancy Goyne Evans, New England Furniture at Winterthur: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Publications, 1997), 339–342, no. 172, ill.