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Photo: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 27.57.1
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Chest of drawers

Object number



Maker John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


Height: 34 1/2 in. (87.63 cm) Width, top: 36 3/4 in. (93.345 cm) Width, case: 34 3/4 in. (88.265 cm) Width, feet: 37 1/2 in. (95.25 cm) Depth, top: 20 in. (50.8 cm) Depth, case: 18 3/4 in. (47.625 cm) Depth, feet: 20 3/4 in. (52.705 cm)



Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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


Mahogany (primary); white pine (bottom, feet glue blocks); chestnut (top glue blocks); yellow poplar (all other secondary)


"Made by / John Townsend / Rhode Island / 1765," inscribed in brown ink, on paper label glued to interior of top drawer


Illegible inscriptions in graphite, inside left side board; two large marks in chalk, on bottom board


George Champlin (1738–1809), Newport, Rhode Island; by descent to his niece, Mrs. Caleb Jewett Tenney (née Ruth Channing, died 1842) Newport, Rhode Island, and later Wethersfield, Connecticut, and Northampton, Massachusetts; by descent to her daughter, Elizabeth Tenney Allen (1820–unknown), Northampton, Massachusetts; by descent to her daughter, Clara Channing Allen (1860–unknown), Northampton, Massachusetts; sold to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1927

Associated names

George Champlin
Ruth Channing Tenney
Caleb Jewett Tenney
Elizabeth Tenney Allen
Clara Channing Allen


The top board is attached with screws and glue blocks to a subtop that consists of two broad battens dovetailed to the sides. The back of the case is two horizontal tongue and groove boards nailed with rosehead nails to rabets in the case sides. The shells are applied to the front of the top drawer, whose inner front surface is flat. The other drawer fronts are blocked inside and out. The drawer bottoms are a single board running side to side and overlapping the drawer sides and back; runners are nailed to the board at the sides. The tops of the drawer sides are slightly rounded. Each foot has two horizontal blocks glued to the bottom board and one vertical block abutting them. The back of the rear feet are flat brackets with an ogee-shaped outline on the bottom edge. Source: Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol.II, Late Colonial Period: The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: Random House, 1985), 216?217.

See also


Morrison H. Heckscher, "John Townsend's Block-and-Shell Furniture," Antiques 121, no. 5 (May 1982): 1145–49, fig. 3, 6–7, 11, 14.
Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Late Colonial Period, The Queen Anne and Chippendale Styles (New York: Random House, 1985), 216–18, 365, 366, no. 139, ill.
Brock Jobe and Myrna Kaye, New England Furniture: The Colonial Era (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1984), fig. II-6.
Mabel M. Swan, "The Goddard and Townsend Joiners, Part II," Antiques 49, no. 5 (May 1946): 292, fig. 2.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 5, 8, 67, figs. 2.5, 3.3, 3.52, 3.58–3.58b, fig. Plate 3.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 6, 112–14, no. 18, fig. 3.
Helen Comstock, American Furniture: Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Century Styles (New York: Viking Press, 1962), 181, fig. 298.
Charles O. Cornelius, "John Townsend: An Eighteenth-Century Cabinet-Maker," Metropolitan Museum Studies 1 (1928): 72-80, fig. 1,4.
Meyric R. Rogers, American Interior Design (New York: W. W. Norton, 1947), 70, fig. 47.
Joseph Downs, American Chippendale Furniture: A Picture Book, rev. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1949), pl.14, ill.
Lydia Bond Powell, "The American Wing," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin n.s.12 (March 1954): 208 (ill.).
"A Bicentennial Treasury: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 33, no. 4 (Winter 1975–1976): n.p., no. 13, ill.
"American History and American Crafts," Antiques 50, no. 4 (October 1946): 253, fig. 25.
Malcolm A. Norton, "More Light on the Blockfront," Antiques 3, no. 2 (February 1923): 63, fig. 1.
R. T. Haines Halsey, Charles O. Cornelius, and Joseph Downs, A Handbook of the American Wing, 7th rev. ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1942), 116, 118–119, fig. 57.
R. T. Haines Halsey and Charles O. Cornelius, A Handbook of the American Wing, 6th rev. ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1938), 116, 118–119, fig. 57.
Edgar G. Miller, American Antique Furniture: A Book for Amateurs, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1937), vol. 1, pp. 484–87, no. 884.
Phoebe Phillips, ed., The Collectors' Encyclopedia of Antiques (New York: Gallery Books, 1973), 395, fig. c.
Margaretta M. Lovell, "Such Furniture as Will Be Most Profitable: The Business of Cabinetmaking in Eighteenth-Century Newport," Winterthur Portfolio 26, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 32, 44, 46, fig. 2, 10.
Margaretta M. Lovell, Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans, and Patrons in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 229, 231, 248, 250, fig. 94–95.
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), 5n11, 209n3, 290n4, 453.