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Bureau table

Object number



Maker, attributed to John Townsend, American, 1732/33–1809


Height: 34 3/8 in. (87.313 cm) Width, top: 36 in. (91.44 cm) Width, case: 34 in. (86.36 cm) Width, feet: 36 1/2 in. (92.71 cm) Depth, top: 20 1/2 in. (52.07 cm) Depth, case: 18 5/8 in. (47.308 cm) Depth, feet: 20 in. (50.8 cm)


ca. 1765

Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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


Mahogany (primary); chestnut (large drawer bottom and glue blocks of sub top and feet); white pine (bottom board and cupboard sides); yellow poplar (all else)




On bottom of large drawer in graphite: "Bottom". On upper right drawer in chalk: "Mad by / --- / Mahogany". On bottom of middle left and lower left drawers, in graphite: "A". On rails below small drawers, beginning at upper left, in graphite: "A [through] E". On side of lower left drawer, in graphite: "Samuel Horton [?]" ; "Don for J---." Numerous other inscriptions on drawers and bottom board are illegible.


Pascal Allen, Warren, Rhode Island; by descent to his grandson, Pascal Allen Horton, Stratham, New Hampshire; sold to F. C. Higgins, Exeter, New Hampshire, 1907; sold to H. Eugene Bolles (1838–1910), Boston, 1907; sold to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1909

Associated names

F. C. Higgins
Pascal Allen
Pascal Allen Horton
Mrs. Russell Sage
H. Eugene Bolles


The top is nailed and screwed to a subtop of two boards butted together. The subtop is dovetailed to the sides and reinforced with three glue blocks at the front and continuous ones on the sides. The back is two horizontal boards. The top drawer has a dust board below. The top edges of the drawer sides are rounded and the interior of the fronts are flat. The drawer bottom run from side to side on the large drawer and from front to back on the small drawers. The drawer bottoms overlap the sides and back and have applied runners. Each foot has horizontal blocks glued to the bottom board with a vertical glue block butted to them. The back brackets on the rear feet are cut on the diagonal. 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), 211.


Other bureau tables attributed to John Townsend include RIF 231, RIF 661, RIF1430, RIF1784, RIF1785, and RIF3607. A variation, also attributed to John Townsend, has a cupboard that is not recessed, see RIF210 and RIF 1431.


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), 211–12, 365, no. 135, ill.
Morrison H. Heckscher, "John Townsend's Block-and-Shell Furniture," Antiques 121, no. 5 (May 1982): 1150, fig. 19.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 126–27, 190–91, no. 23, fig. 62.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 160, pl. 11, fig. 3.83, 3.83a.
Luke Beckerdite, "The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend," American Furniture (2000): 26, fig. 44.
Edward Stratton Holloway, "Furniture Exclusively American," Antiques 22, no. 5 (May 1933): 183, fig. 4.
Helen Comstock, "Diversity in Connecticut Blockfront," Antiques 84, no. 1 (July 1963): 67, fig. 7.
Luke Vincent Lockwood, Colonial Furniture in America, 3rd ed., 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926), vol. 1, p. 124, fig. 122.
Edgar G. Miller, American Antique Furniture: A Book for Amateurs, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1937), vol. 1, pp. 494–95, no. 905, ill.
Lester Margon, Masterpieces of American Furniture, 1620–1840: A Compendium, with Photographs, Measured Drawings, and Descriptive Commentary (New York: Architectural Book Publishing, 1965), 195, p.194 (measured drawing), ill.
Walter A. Dyer, "John Goddard and His Block Fronts," Antiques 1, no. 5 (May 1922): 206, fig. 10.
Charles F. Montgomery and Patricia E. Kane, eds., American Art: 1750–1800 Towards Independence, exh. cat. (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), 150, 294, no. 99, ill.
R. T. Haines Halsey and Elizabeth Tower, The Homes of Our Ancestors as Shown in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1935), fig. 112, opp. p. 151, ill.
A Walk through the American Wing, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 32–33, fig. 25.
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), 290n5.