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Photo: Courtesy Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, The Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Fund, 78.146; photo by Erik Gould
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Chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Joseph Rawson, Sr., 1760–1835


37 × 45 × 22 in. (93.98 × 114.3 × 55.88 cm)



Current location

Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design


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


Mahogany, mahogany veneer, and lightwood inlay (primary); chestnut (drawer linings and case backboards); pine (laminates of drawer fronts, drawer dividers, longitudinal battens under top, brackets of rear feet, glue blocks of feet, laminates of skirt, glue blocks on underside of case, and case bottom)


"MADE / BY / Joseph Rawson, /PROVIDENCE." printed on a paper label glued to the back of the chest


Slash, in chalk, on exterior drawer backs; “1” through “4,” in graphite, on interior drawer bottoms (top to bottom) and on tops of drawer dividers (top to bottom); "Burr Walice Freer / Belvedere / Cal / Via Tikrum / Cal N W RR," in ink, on paper label tacked to backboards


Burr Wallace Freer (1869–1951), Belvedere, Sausalito, and San Rafael, California, in the early twentieth century; by descent to his daughter, Mrs. Mary Freer Nussdorfer (1894–1977), Bath, Ohio, 1951; by descent to her daughter, Mrs. Mary N. Hennessy, Northfield, Massachusetts, 1977; sold to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1978

Associated names

Burr Wallace Freer
Mary Freer Nussdorfer
Mary N. Hennessy


The single-board top has a square inlaid edge and a serpentine front. Directly below the thin top are transverse and longitudinal battens visible at the back and later blocks visible on its underside. It is secured to its conformingly shaped case by screws through the undersides of two large longitudinal boards whose ends are blind dovetailed to the case sides. The screws are of later date; shadows of earlier screws remain. The back edge of the front sub-top board has an incurvate cut-out. The case back consists of two horizontal half-lapped boards nailed with brads to the rear sub-top board, to rabbets in the case sides, and to the back edge of the two-board case bottom. Within the case a later vertical batten is screwed to the inside faces of the backboards. The front edge of each case side is veneered. The front of the forward sub-top board is veneered, as are the front of the drawer dividers below, which fit into grooves in the case sides. Behind each divider is a later drawer support, interspersed with drawer stops nailed to the case sides. The graduated, serpentine drawer fronts consist of between four and six laminations, depending on their depth, are veneered and line-inlaid and their cockbeaded edges are applied with brads. They meet their flush, full-depth drawer sides ? with tops rounded in front, flat in back ? in dovetail joints (partially obscured by cockbeading) having large thick-necked pins of varying configurations. Some drawer-side bottoms have been replaced. The single-board drawer bottoms are parallel to the front, and chamfered at the front and sides, where they fit into grooves. At the underside of each joint between drawer bottom and drawer-side groove are four later rectangular horizontal glue blocks. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads into the flat-topped drawer backs. As there is no bottom rail, the bottom drawer rests upon the top side of the case bottom, to the front edge of which is attached with rosehead nails a laminated skirt board, serpentine in plan and elevation, veneered and line-inlaid. The serpentine side skirts and side bracket-feet faces are continuous with the case sides and accompanied by horizontal triangular glue blocks. The front feet consist of shaped, flaring blocks attached directly to the case bottom, faced with mahogany veneer. The rear feet consist of large shaped vertical blocks behind the side-facing French brackets. The back-facing brackets are simple straight-profiled trapezoidal brackets nailed to the case bottom and the vertical block. There are two rectangular longitudinal blocks nailed to the back of the case bottom?s underside beside the back-facing brackets of the rear feet. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, April 21, 2015; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Christopher P. Monkhouse, "American Furniture Recently Acquired by the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design," Antiques 118, no. 1 (July 1980): 127, pl. II, ill.
Christopher P. Monkhouse and Thomas S. Michie, American Furniture in Pendleton House (Providence: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1986), 65–66, no. 12, 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), 448.