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Photo: Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, 1930.2197a-b
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High chest of drawers

Object number



Maker Unknown


66 1/8 40 1/2 22 in. (167.958 102.87 55.88 cm)



Current location

Yale University Art Gallery


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


Walnut veneer and burl veneer on eastern white pine (drawer fronts, front face); walnut (applied moldings, cock beading); maple (legs, feet, stretchers, sides of upper and lower case); aspen (top and bottom of upper case); chestnut (drawer linings, dustboards, drawer dividers, back of upper case, dowels in feet, other elements)






Fred Finnerty; sold to Israel Sack, New York; sold to Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937) New York, 1921; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1930

Associated names

Francis P. Garvan
Israel Sack, Inc.
Fred Finnerty


The top and bottom of the upper case are dovetailed to the sides. The vertical backboards are butted together and nailed to a rabbet in the top and sides and to the bottom; they extend slightly below the bottom. The front face of the case and the drawer fronts are veneered. There is a full dustboard under the blind frieze drawer and under the three small drawers in line. The drawer runners are let into grooves in the case sides; the vertical partitions between the drawers in line are tenoned through the drawer divider. Small blocks are glued to the inside of the back as stops. The applied base molding rests within the projecting midmolding of the lower case, and there is no top to the lower case. The back of the lower case is a single horizontal board dovetailed to the sides. The front posts are tapered, being thicker at the bottom, and they extend the full height of the case; the rear posts are only half the height of the case. There is a center runner for each drawer in the lower case, tenoned in place and with a block applied as a stop to its rear end. The vertical transverse partitions between the drawers are triangular, nailed to the front rail, and tenoned through the back. The cock beading on the front and side skirts is applied with rosehead nails. The legs in each corner are doweled to the corner posts; the two legs in the center of the front are doweled to rabbeted blocks applied to the inside of the skirt. Stips are nailed to each side of the lower case. Each of the front and side stretchers is made from two boards. On each drawer, the sides are dovetailed to the front and back, and the bottoms are nailed to a rabbet in the front and to the underside of the sides and back, with running strips used on the wide drawers. The lock escutcheon on the small center drawer in the upper case is blind. Soure: Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery), 237-238.


In the past, this high chest of drawers has been attributed to both Boston, Massachusetts, and New York, however, the bands of vertical inlay framing the drawer escutheons are found on desks with Rhode Island provenance and construction techniques, see for instance RIF 232 and 881. The use of chestnut in the construction of this high chest also conforms to Rhode Island craft practice.


Loan Exhibition of Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Furniture and Glass, exh. cat. (New York: American Art Galleries, 1929), n.p., no. 510.
Thomas H. Ormsbee, The Story of American Furniture (New York: MacMillan Company, 1934), 255–256, fig. 111a.
Charles Nagel, Jr., American Furniture: 1650–1850 (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1949), pl. 6b.
Albert Sack, Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1950), 175, ill.
Helen Comstock, The Concise Encyclopedia of American Antiques, 2 vols. (London: The Connoisseur, 1958), p. 29, pl. 6a (as Henry Ford Museum).
John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 192, fig. 546.
John T. Kirk, Early American Furniture: How to Recognize, Evaluate, and Care for the Most Beautiful Pieces: High Style, Country, Primitive and Rustic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 82–84, fig. 68.
"American Arts and the American Experience," Museum News 53, no. 3 (November 1974): pp. 37-38.
Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 236–239, no. 122.
Dennis Andrew Carr, American Colonial Furniture: Guide to the Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004).
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), 31n44.