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Courtesy: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 63.172
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Chest-on-chest


Object number

RIF17

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

Height: 85 1/4 in. (216.535 cm) Width, upper case: 38 3/4 in. (98.425 cm) Width, lower case: 40 1/8 in. (101.918 cm) Width, feet: 43 1/4 in. (109.855 cm) Depth, upper case: 19 1/8 in. (48.578 cm) Depth, lower case: 19 1/2 in. (49.53 cm) Depth, feet: 21 1/4 in. (53.975 cm)

Date

1760–90

Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany (primary); yellow poplar (drawer sides and back, backs of drawer dividers of upper and lower case, most drawer supports of upper case, drawer supports of lower case, vertical brace at backs of upper and lower cases, sides and top of pediment opening, and vertical blocks of front feet); chestnut (most drawer bottoms, center support for top drawers of upper case, original tip bar for proper-right upper drawer of upper case, top of upper case, back of pediment, bottom of upper and lower cases, blocks at lower front rail of lower case and upper front rail of upper case, and brackets of rear feet); white pine (drawer runners, bottoms of top long drawer of upper case and bottom two drawers of lower case, center guide for upper drawers of upper case, top boards of pediment, backboard of upper case , and alignment block on underside of upper case)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

“1” through “5,” in graphite, on interior sides [at upper front corners] and interior back of drawers of upper case [from proper-right upper drawer to lower drawer]; compass work, on exterior back of drawer marked “3”; illegible graphite, on exterior proper-left side and interior back of drawer marked “4”; probably "A," in graphite, on top of divider under proper-left upper drawer of upper case; probably "C," in graphite, on top of divider under second long drawer of upper case; “Top,” in graphite, on interior top and sides [at upper front corners] of upper case; “2,” in graphite, on interior proper-left side of upper case [front of case, at level of first long drawer]; mathematical calculations and illegible text, in graphite, on exterior lower back of upper case; “1” through “3,” on interior proper-left side of lower case [front of case, at levels of second and third drawers from top] and on underside of corresponding dividers [from bottom to top]; illegible graphite, on divider under second long drawer from top of upper case; “Front Top,” in graphite, on underside of lower case top [at front rail]; probably “Lower,” in chalk, on exterior top of lower case; “No[?],” in chalk, on underside of upper case bottom; "178/1385 [20th century]," in black crayon, on the upper case back; "1432-5 [20th century]," in black crayon, on lower case top

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Mrs. Franklin Bartlett, New York, before 1921; consigned by her estate to American Art Association, New York, January 13–15 1921, lot 671; sold to William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951), San Simeon, California; sold to Doris Brian Hepner and Milton Hepner; given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1963

Associated names

American Art Association
Mrs. Franklin Bartlett
William Randolph Hearst
Doris Brian Hepner
Milton Hepner

Construction

The upper-case roof consists of multiple thin boards bent to align with the scroll board and crown molding in front and the upper backboard behind and nailed with brads to the tops of them, to blocking within the pediment, and to the tops of the single-board case sides, with brads. The upper backboard is also nailed to blocking within the pediment. The vertical walls of a rectilinear cutout in the back of the pediment are set into grooves in the scroll board and nailed with brads to the upper backboard. The cutout?s floor is also set into grooves in the back of the scroll board and held in place by the walls above and by nails in the backboard. There is a block shaped to align with the pediment?s cutouts behind the central pedestal, fixed to it with brads. The two-part crown molding is toe-nailed from behind at its rear corners and from above at its front corners to the case sides, to which it is also fixed with glue and wood-filled fasteners. The scroll board is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides; its thumb-molded plaques are attached to it from within. The central (possibly replaced) urn-form finial sits upon a thin rectangular cap held on with sprigs. Carved stylized rosettes which terminate the crown moldings are fixed to the front of the pediment with dome-headed screws through its back. The upper-case back consists of three horizontal half-lapped boards nailed to rabbets in the upper-case ceiling, sides and bottom with rosehead nails. The scribe-lined upper-case ceiling meets its case sides in blind dovetail joints. Within the case a longitudinal support for the upper small drawers is set into grooves in the case sides. A vertical batten at the midpoint of the case back is tenoned into the support and is nailed to the backboard from within. A lateral support is half-lapped to both the support in back and to the drawer divider in front. It is also nailed from below to the drawer support. Atop the lateral drawer support is a low drawer guide aligned with the upright between the two small drawers, half-lapped and set into a groove in the scroll board, which joint is accompanied by horizontal chamfered glue blocks behind the top rail/scroll board. There are shadows of a tip bar at the proper left side of the case interior; a proper right bar remains. The drawer dividers, backed by supports fixed with rosehead and later nails, are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. The upper-case bottom rail is set into grooves in the case sides; behind it are three longitudinal chamfered glue blocks and drawer supports. The two-board upper-case bottom is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides, with finely cut pins of slightly varying configuration and half-pins in front and in back. A narrow block at the center of the case bottom near its front edge is fixed to it with rosehead nails and fits into a slot in the lower-case top. Three nails at the front edge of the upper-case bottom attach it to the bottom rail above. The single-piece waist molding is rabbeted to fit over the lower case and is fixed to the case sides and bottom rail with brads and wood-filled fasteners. The graduated, thumb-molded, lipped, kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, arched-top, full-height sides in dovetail joints having finely cut, narrow-necked pins of slightly varying configuration with half-pins above and below. The two-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are chamfered at the front and sides (where they fit into grooves), are fitted with later runners, and fixed to the flat-topped backs with rosehead nails. The smaller upper drawers have touch latches fixed to their single-board bottoms with rosehead nails and later brads. The two-board lower-case top meets its single-board sides in dovetail joints having finely cut pins of varying configuration, with half-pins in front and half-pins with rabbets in back. The two half-lapped boards of the lower case are fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case top, sides and bottom. A vertical batten inside the case is nailed from within and without to the case back. The lower-case top rail is half-blind dovetailed to the case sides and fixed in the front with three rosehead nails to the bottom rail. The feet consist of vertical blocks attached directly to the case bottom, flanked by shaped horizontal blocks and faced with ogee bracket feet. The rear feet are configured similarly except for straight-profiled ogee back brackets which fit into vertical grooves in the side-facing ogee brackets and are accompanied by horizontal chamfered glue blocks. The back-facing edge of the rear feet?s side brackets have an ogee profile. Examined by P. E. Kane and J. N. Johnson, December 11, 2014; notes compiled by T. B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

American Art Association, New York, Catalogue of the Collection of Early American, English, and French Furniture Formed by the Late Mrs. Franklin Bartlett, sale cat. (January 13–15, 1921), lot 671.
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), 224–25, no. 145, ill.