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Photo: Courtesy Rhode Island Historical Society, 1984.27.1 (RHiX5159)
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF1079

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

95 44 1/2 23 in. (241.301 113.03 58.42 cm)

Date

1770–95

Current location

The Rhode Island Historical Society

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); mahogany (vertical blocks on front feet and proper-left rear foot); chestnut (drawer linings, horizontal braces for drawer supports, drawer support for bottom drawer of upper case, board under pediment, block behind vertical divider between two upper drawers, drawer guides of upper and lower case, brackets of rear feet, horizontal blocks on feet, back boards of upper and lower cases, and drawer stops of lower case); pine (backs of drawer dividers, most drawer supports of upper and lower case, tip bar for upper drawers, and top boards of pediment[?])

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Upper case: “A,” in graphite, on interior bottom of proper-right upper drawer; “B,” on exterior back of proper-right upper drawer; “4 ,” in chalk, on exterior of proper-right side of proper-left upper drawer; “Bottom,” in graphite, on interior bottom of proper-left upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on interior back of proper-left upper drawer; “2” and “25 / 2[?],” in graphite, on interior front of proper-left upper drawer; “B,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left upper drawer; “3 ,” in chalk, on interior proper-left side of case at level of upper drawers; “4 ” and “B,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper long drawer; “4 ,” in chalk, on interior proper-right side of case (at level of upper long drawer); “5 1/4” and “B,” in chalk, on exterior back of second long drawer from top; “5 ,” in chalk, on interior proper-right side of case (at level of second long drawer from top); “B[?]T,” in graphite, on interior bottom of second long drawer from top; “7” and “B,” in chalk, on exterior back of third long drawer from top; “6 ,” in chalk, on interior proper-right side of case (at level of third long drawer from top); “8” and “B,” in graphite, on exterior back of lower long drawer; “7,” in chalk, on interior proper-right side of case (at level of lower drawer); A X,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under proper-right upper drawer; “2,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under proper-left upper drawer; “B” and loop, in graphite, on top of drawer divider under upper long drawer; “X C,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under second long drawer from top; “3” and loop, in graphite, on interior of proper-right vertical rail (at level of second drawer from top); loop, in graphite, on interior of proper-left vertical rail (at level of second drawer from top); “ “D[?] X,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under third long drawer from top Lower case: “6” and “B,” in chalk, on exterior back of upper drawer; “Bottom,” in graphite, on interior bottom of lower drawer; “6 1/[?],” in chalk, on interior proper-left side of case at level of upper drawer; “A,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under upper drawer; “7 B,” in chalk, on exterior back of second drawer from top; “Bottom[?],” incised on interior bottom of second drawer from top; “B [?],” in graphite, on top of divider under second drawer from top; “7 ,” in chalk, on interior proper-left side of case at level of second drawer from top; “7 B,” in chalk, on exterior back of third drawer from top; “Bottom[?],” incised on interior bottom of third drawer from top; “3” and “C,” in graphite, on top of drawer divider under third drawer from top; “8,” on interior proper-left side of case (at level of third drawer from top); “8 B,” in chalk, on exterior back of bottom drawer; “9,” on interior proper-left side of case (at level of bottom drawer)

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

John Brown (1736–1803), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his grandson, John Brown Francis Herreshoff (1850–1932) New York; by descent in 1932 to his son, Norman Herreshoff (1903–1990), Bristol, Rhode Island; given to Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, 1984

Associated names

John Nicholas Brown
John Brown Francis Herreshoff Esq.
Norman Herreshoff

Construction

The upper-case roof consists of multiple thin boards fixed with brads and rosehead nails to the top of the upper-case backboard, the tops of the two-board upper-case sides, the top of the scroll board and the rabbet atop the board behind the open pediment. Three reeded urn form finials with corkscrew flames sit upon rectilinear plinths with plain caps; the central plinth is fluted on its front face only, the flanking plinths on their outside faces. The upper-case crown molding is attached to the scroll board and case sides with wood-filled fasteners. The lower nose-and-cove portions of the crown molding (with an additional cove profile) frame, and are flush with the three-quarter-round voids which flank the central plinth. These lower portions are let into the crown molding near its termini at the carved rosettes above and into the molding beneath the central plinth below in mitre joints. Stylized rosettes which terminate the crown are backed up by two layers of circular blocking. The scroll board below is half-blind dovetailed (and nailed with brads) to the upper case stiles. Between the upper case stiles and sides are corner assemblies consisting of rectangular blocks above separate abaci, capitals, fluted quarter columns, bases, plinths, and rectangular blocks. The quarter columns, applied with wood-filled fasteners, appear to be integral with the bases. The drawer dividers, including the bottom rail, are half-blind dovetailed to the stiles, as is the vertical divider between the upper small drawers to the scroll-board above and the drawer divider below. The upper ceiling of the upper case is dovetailed to the prominently kerf-marked case sides. To the inside of the upper-case back (which consists of half-lapped horizontal boards) are nailed with brads, horizontal battens fitted into grooves in the case sides, to which are half-lapped full-depth drawer supports also half-lapped to the drawer dividers. The battens also act as drawer stops. Drawer guides are attached to the top of the supports. A medial drawer support is half-lapped to the upper drawer divider; there is a medial tip bar above it, set into a groove in a horizontal batten on the backboard. There are bottom-drawer supports on the top of the upper-case bottom, to which are nailed drawer guides. The lipped, kerf-marked, thumb-molded and graduated upper-case drawers meet their slightly shorter, beaded-top, full-depth sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, somewhat thick-necked pins with half-pins above and below. The upper small-drawer bottoms are perpendicular to the fronts, the lower drawer bottoms parallel. The bottoms are chamfered at the front and sides which fit into grooves in the vertical elements, and fixed with rosehead nails to the flat-topped drawer backs. The upper case rests within a molding attached to the lower-case top (which is half-blind dovetailed to its kerf-marked two-board case sides) by invisible means. Small blocks fixed to the underside of the case top with rosehead nails serve as stops for the upper drawer. Stops for the lower drawers are nailed with brads to horizontal battens similar to those in the upper case. Drawer supports and guides are also arranged similarly to those above, as are the lower-case back and quarter columns. The lower-case drawer dividers are block-fronted and integrally cock-beaded. The case stiles? cockbeading is applied with small rosehead nails. The lower-case top rail is nailed to and lapped over the stiles; the drawer dividers below are half-blind dovetailed to them. In the top face of the bottom rail are two large countersunk fasteners. The drawer fronts are concave and convex-blocked. The convex shells of the upper drawer are applied; the blocking of the lower drawers appears to be integral. The drawers are constructed similarly to those above, except for the tops of the drawer sides, which are flush with the tops of the drawer fronts, and their drawer-side tails extend slightly beyond the drawer backs. There is an empty slot within the case below the lower case?s bottom rail. A base molding is applied with wood-filled fasteners. The case bottom is half-blind dovetailed to the two-board case sides. The feet consist of horizontal mitered glue blocks (part of the proper right blocks are missing) fixed directly to the case bottom, below which are shaped vertical blocks, the whole faced with ogee bracket faces, the forward faces of the front feet convex-blocked and scroll-carved. The back brackets of the rear feet are straight-profiled trapezoids. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, June 25, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

See also


Bibliography

Frances Clary Morse, Furniture of the Olden Time (New York: MacMillan Company, 1926), 32–34, illus.21, ill.
Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr., "Discoveries in Newport Furniture and Silver," Antiques 68, no. 1 (July 1955): 46–47, fig. 6.
Helen Comstock, American Furniture: Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Century Styles (New York: Viking Press, 1962), 183, fig. 305.
Wendy A. Cooper, "The Purchase of Furniture and Furnishings by John Brown, Providence Merchant, Part 1: 1760–1788," Antiques 103, no. 2 (February 1973): 332, fig. 8.
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), 455n4.