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Photo: Courtesy The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Bayou Bend Collection, Gift of Miss Ima Hogg
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Slant-front desk


Object number

RIF232

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

Open: 41 1/4 36 1/4 33 3/8 in. (104.78 92.08 84.77 cm) Closed: 41 1/4 36 1/4 19 5/8 in. (104.78 92.08 49.8 cm)

Date

1700–1730

Current location

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Geography

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

Medium

Black walnut and an determined burl veneer (primary); eastern white pine (writing surface, fronts and bottoms of interior drawers, bottom of interior compartment, horizontal veneer board above the lower drawers, drawer dividers, fronts of lower drawers, bottom board, and horizontal strips that feet are attached through); yellow poplar (backboards, sides and backs of interior drawers, components of lower drawers, center divider between and horizontal brace behind the two side-by-side lower drawers, and large board below the writing surface); cherry (right drawer runner of center lower drawer); Cuban oyster wood [gymnanthes lucida] (knobs of interior drawers); chestnut (turned feet)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Two interlocked loops, in chalk, on underside of bottom board; "T" and [illegible], in chalk, on exterior of backboard; illegible graphite, on interior back and proper-right side of proper-right upper exterior drawer; letter [“S” with spiral tail?],” in graphite, on exterior back of upper exterior drawers; “1 [probably later],” in graphite, on exterior bottom of proper-left upper exterior drawer; letter [“S” with spiral tail?], C-scroll, and “B,” in graphite, on exterior back of upper exterior long drawer; illegible word and “Back,” in graphite, on interior back of bottom exterior drawer; graphite letter [including “SP”?], in graphite, on exterior back of exterior bottom drawer; “1” and “/,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-right interior drawer; “2” and “/,” in graphite, on exterior back of second interior drawer from proper-right; “3” and “T,” in graphite, on exterior back of middle interior drawer; an arc, in graphite, on exterior proper-right side [in upper front corner] of middle interior drawer; “5,” in graphite, on exterior back of proper-left interior drawer; illegible inscription, in graphite, on exterior proper-left side of proper-left interior drawer; illegible graphite on exterior sides of interior document drawers; "x," incised, on interior front of interior drawer marked "2" and interior back of drawer marked "3"

Style

William and Mary

Provenance

Collings and Collings, New York, before 1927; sold to Ima Hogg (1882–1975), Houston, 1927; given to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1969

Associated names

Ima Hogg

Construction

The dovetails that attach the top board to the two-piece case sides are covered with veneer strips. The interior of the desk has a well accessed through a sliding panel. The two horizontal backboards are nailed with rosehead nails to rabbets in the case sides and top; the lower backboard rests on the bottom board. The drawer dividers and sides of the openings for the exterior drawers are faced with a double-arched molding. The drawer supports are nailed to the case sides. The two small exterior drawers are supported by a frame that spans the back of the case and is tenoned to the drawer supports; the central support is lapped to it at the rear. The muntin between the small drawers is tenoned through the drawer support below. Drawer stops are glued to the rear corners of the case. On the exterior drawers dovetails with a half key at the top and a half tail at the bottom fasten the drawer sides to the drawer front; veneer covers the dovetails on the drawer front. The grain of the exterior drawer bottoms runs from side to side; the bottoms fit into a groove in the drawer front and are nailed to the other three sides; runners are applied to the side edges of the drawer bottom. The bottoms of the interior drawers are glued to the undersides of the sides and back and to a rabbet in the drawer fronts. The sides of the letter drawers on the interior are nailed to the bottom, back, and front with brads. The edges of the pine fall are faced with walnut moldings. The desk's two-piece bottom board is dovetailed to the case sides; the base moldings are applied to the edges of the bottom with nails from the exterior. A three sided frame rests on the bottom board on the interior and the ball feet pierce it. Examined by P. E. Kane March 2004.

See also


Bibliography

David B. Warren et al., American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1998), 20–21, no. F35, ill.
Peter M. Kenny, "Ark of the Covenant: The Remarkable Inlaid Cedar Scrutoir from the Brinckerhoff Family of Newtown, Long Island," American Furniture (2014): 6–7, fig. 8.
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), 2, 5n4, 19, 53, 152, 156–159, no. 10, fig. 1.