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Photo: Courtesy Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Gift of Harold Tarbox in memory of Gertrude Rebecca Reynolds Tarbox, 81.155; photo by Erik Gould
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Tea table

Object number



Maker, attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


26 1/2 32 1/2 20 1/2 in. (67.31 82.55 52.07 cm)



Current location

Rhode Island School of Design Museum


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


Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (original glue blocks)






Possibly the Sweet family or Abbott family; by descent in one of those families to Gertrude Rebecca Reynolds Tarbox, Wakefield, Rhode Island; by descent to her husband, Harold Tarbox, Wakefield, Rhode Island; given to the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1981

Associated names

Sweet Family
Abbott Family
Gertrude Rebecca Reynolds Tarbox
Harold Tarbox


A beaded molding, ogee-shaped within and quarter round without, is applied to the perimeter of the two-board, oblong, rectangular top, the edge of which is visible beneath the molding. The underside of the top is cut out at its perimeter and at each corner around each rectangular vertical glue block at the inside faces of the blocks atop each leg. The top is secured to its frame by fasteners beneath its applied molding. The rails are tenoned to the legs without wood pins. Nailed with brads to the bottom of each rail is a sub-rail whose outer edge is quarter round and flush with the knee brackets, glued and nailed to their undersides, and with the tops of the cabriole legs. The legs have angular knees, deeply carved tendons and finely carved claws with undercut talons grasping ball feet. On the underside of the top are four butterfly wedges and a slightly chamfered rectangular longitudinal block. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, October 27, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.


Christopher P. Monkhouse and Thomas S. Michie, American Furniture in Pendleton House (Providence: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, 1986), 133–134, no. 71, ill.
"Museum Notes," Museum Notes (1982): 13, ill.
Carla Mathes Woodward and Franklin W. Robinson, eds., A Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, exh. cat. (Providence, R.I.: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, 1985), 318–319, no. 271, ill.
Christopher P. Monkhouse, "Museum Notes: Department of Decorative Arts," Bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design 69, no. 2 (October 1982): 13, ill.
Erik K. Gronning and Amy Coes, "The Early Work of John Townsend in the Christopher Townsend Shop Tradition," American Furniture (2013): 27, fig. 60.