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Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's, New York
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Chest of drawers


Object number

RIF5916

Maker

Maker Unknown
Maker, possibly by Thomas Goddard, 1765?1858

Dimensions

32 1/2 37 1/4 19 3/4 in. (82.55 94.62 50.17 cm)

Date

1785–1805

Current location

Unknown

Geography

Probably made in Newport, Rhode Island
(view a map of Rhode Island)

Medium

Cherry (primary); pine (drawer bottoms, drawer supports, glue blocks on feet, and rear brackets of feet); yellow poplar (drawer backs and sides, case bottom, and battens on underside of top); chestnut (case backboards and glue blocks on underside of top)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

"A," "B," and "C," in graphite, on interior backs of drawers [from top to bottom]; columns of figures, in chalk, on underside of top; "This Bureau was / made by Thos. Goddard / about 1790 and came / from The Riggs Estate, / Newport, R.I.," in ink, on a paper label tacked to interior bottom of bottom drawer; illegible inscription [possibly "T L"], in chalk, on outside face of back boards

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Riggs estate, Newport, Rhode Island. Sotheby's, New York, January 24–25, 2014, lot 271

Associated names

Sotheby's
Riggs estate

Construction

The multi-board top has ogee-molded front and side edges, and a square overhanging back edge. A cove molding, nailed with brads to the case and to the underside of the top, continues past the case sides, where it returns upon itself. The top is secured to the single-board case sides through two longitudinal battens on its underside. There are two screws in the front batten; the rear batten appears to be glued to the top and be nailed into it through the upper backboard. The joints between the battens and the case sides are hidden behind blocking attached with brads, which prevents the top drawer from tipping forward. There are transverse blocks between the battens, and four horizontal rectilinear glue blocks. The case back consists of two horizontal boards half-lapped together and nailed with brads into rabbets in the case sides, into the rear horizontal batten under the top, and into the back of the one-board case bottom, which is dovetailed to the case sides. Within the case, the top and bottom rails fit into grooves in the case sides; the drawer dividers are dovetailed into them. Behind the dividers are supports- some flipped, some replaced- attached to the sides with rosehead nails. The drawers are graduated in depth; their fronts are molded, lipped and meet their arched-top, full-depth drawer sides, of which they are slightly proud, in dovetail joints, having finely cut pins of slightly varying configuration and irregular spacing, with half-pins above. There are prominent kerf marks inside the drawer fronts. The single-board drawer bottoms are feather-chamfered at the sides and front, fitting into grooves in the front and in the sides, where they are reinforced with long flat glue blocks. The drawer bottoms are nailed with brads to the drawer backs. The tops of the drawer backs are chamfered in back, the joints between drawer-back and drawer-side tops are chamfered and eased. There are three large rectangular horizontal glue blocks behind the bottom rail. An ogee-shaped base molding is attached to the case with wood-filled fasteners. The front feet consist of carved vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by carved horizontal blocks, the whole faced with mitered ogee bracket feet. The rear feet are similarly configured, except for the back brackets, which are simple straight trapezoidal brackets, set into grooves in the side-facing ogee brackets. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, January 21, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

Sotheby's, New York, Important Americana: Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Chinese Export Porcelain, Prints, and Carpets, sale cat. (January 24–25, 2014), 150, lot 271, 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), 313n6.