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Photo: Courtesy Rhode Island Furniture Archive
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Chest of drawers


Object number

RIF5731

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

31 7/8 × 35 3/8 × 20 1/8 in. (80.96 × 89.85 × 51.12 cm)

Date

1760–80

Current location

Private collection

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); cherry (backing behind the concave blocking); white pine (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"2," in chalk, on underside of middle drawer divider

Provenance

Sarah Bowen (1751–1782), Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to her husband; Thomas Lloyd Halsey (1751–1838), Boston and Providence, Rhode Island; by descent to his daughter Mrs. George Warren Cross (née Frances Maria Halsey, 1794–1879) Providence, Rhode Island, and Charleston, South Carolina; by descent to her daughter Mrs. Louis Trezevant Wigfall (née Charlotte Maria Cross, 1818–1893) Charleston, South Carolina, Marshall, Texas, and Baltimore; by descent to her daughter Mrs. Daniel Giraud Wright (née Louise Sophie Wigfall, 1846–1915), Baltimore; by descent to her son William Henry DeCourcy Wright (1873–1951), Baltimore; by descent to his wife Mrs. William Henry DeCourcy Wright (née Mary Eyre, 1875–1955); by descent to her daughter Mrs. Edwin N. Hower (née Grace Eyre Wright, 1915–2003), Baltimore; private collection, New York, by 2013

Associated names

Sarah Bowen
Thomas Lloyd Halsey
Frances Maria Halsey Cross
Charlotte Maria Cross Wigfall
Louise Sophie Wigfall Wright
William Henry DeCourcy Wright
Mary Eyre Wright
Grace Eyre Wright McIntosh Hower

Construction

The oblong top is molded on its sides and front, where it is blocked to align with the case below, and joined to the two-board case sides by dovetail keyways, whose scribe lines are visible under the front edge, and to the top rail with rosehead nails. There are multiple horizontal rectilinear glue blocks at the joint between the case top and the top rail. The case back consists of two large horizontal boards, whose interior faces are chamfered at the sides. Between the two large horizontal boards is a later horizontal filler strip. The larger boards are fixed to rabbets in the case top, bottom, and sides with rosehead and other nails. There are several later nails in each of the larger back boards, inward of the case side rabbets. The single-board case bottom is dovetailed to the case sides and joins the base molding in a large box joint, surrounded by later nails. Within the case, the top rail is set into grooves in the sides, and the drawer dividers are dovetailed thereto. The joints between the bottom rail and the case sides are blind. The mahogany-fronted dust boards are unusually deep. Behind them are drawer supports with chamfered ends, fixed with brads to the case sides. The supports have been flipped. The case contains four block-fronted, graduated, lipped, thumb-molded drawers, whose concave blocking is reinforced by interior blocks. The bottoms of the drawer fronts are not lipped. The drawer fronts and sides meet in dovetail joints, having finely cut, narrow-necked pins, with half-pins above. The drawer-side tops are slightly arched and shy of the drawer-front tops. The multi-board drawer bottoms fit into grooves in the sides, the bottoms of which serve as runners, whose chamfered ends are outlined by scribe lines. The bottoms are nailed with brads to the flat-top drawer backs, whose upper corners are slightly chamfered. The drawer-side tops flatten toward the back to align with the drawer-back tops. The front feet consist of vertical rectilinear glue blocks, attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by carved blocks fixed with rosehead nails, the whole faced by ogee brackets, the front faces blocked and scroll-carved. The rear feet are configured similarly, but for the back brackets, which are simple trapezoids set into grooves in the side-facing brackets and secured by vertical blocks nailed from behind. The back faces of the incurvate portion of the rear side brackets are chamfered, as are bottoms of the ogee bracket feet. Nails holes and shadows inside the back and sides of the top drawer indicate that it was once fitted, possibly, with a tilting writing surface. Examined by P.E. Kane, June 14, 2013; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd

See also