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Photo: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1980.139
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High chest of drawers


Object number

RIF284

Maker

Maker Unknown

Dimensions

84 1/8 37 7/8 19 in. (213.678 96.203 48.26 cm)

Date

1765–95

Current location

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Geography

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

Medium

Mahogany and sabicu(?) (primary); white pine (top boards of pediment); chestnut (all other secondary wood)

Marks

None

Inscriptions

Illegible chalk, on back of proper-right upper drawer of upper case; “V [pointing towards back] X,” in graphite, on exterior bottom of upper case

Style

Chippendale

Provenance

Israel Sack, Inc., New York; Rear Admiral and Mrs. E. P. Moore, Washington, D.C.; given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1980

Associated names

Rear Admiral Edward P. Moore
Barbara Bingham Moore

Construction

The several boards of the pediment roof are shaped to align with the single-piece pediment backboard and the scrollboard, to which they are fixed with brads. They are also nailed to the tops of the single-board upper case sides and to two transverse interior battens, whose back ends are visible through the pediment backboard. The roof boards are set into rabbets in the tops of the sections of the single-piece crown molding which returns into the open pediment nearly all the way to the backboard, closer on the proper right than the proper left. The back edge of the single-board upper-case top is visible at the back between the bottom of the pediment and the two half-lapped upper-case backboards, which are fixed with rosehead nails into rabbets in the case sides and top. The pediment?s single-piece crown molding is fixed with nails and word-filled fasteners to the case sides and scrollboard. A nose and double-cove molding at the inside edges of the pediment?s three-quarter-round oculi joins the crown moldings in miter joints near its termini, which both show signs of old repairs. The oculi meet below a rectangular capped plinth, fluted on three sides, which supports a turned, fluted finial. Thumb-molded scrollboard plaques are attached by invisible means. The bottom of the scrollboard and the drawer dividers below are half-blind dovetailed to the case sides. Within the case, tip bars are nailed with brads to the case sides. A longitudinal support for the upper small drawers is set into a groove in the backboard, and a medial support, topped with a drawer guide, is half-lapped to it and the drawer divider in front. Drawer supports below, some with chamfered back ends, are fixed with rosehead nails and later fasteners to the case sides. Supports for the lower drawers are nailed with brads to the case sides, and the waist molding is attached by invisible means. The single-board case bottom meets the case sides in dovetail joints, having finely cut, thick-necked pins of slightly varying configuration with half-pins in front. The prominently kerf-marked drawer fronts meet their slightly shorter, arch-topped sides in dovetail joints having small, finely cut, narrow-necked pins with half-pins above and half-pins with grooves below. The single-board drawer bottoms, parallel to the fronts, are chamfered there, where they fit into grooves, and at the sides, where they are covered by runners nailed with brads. They are also nailed with brads to the flat-topped drawer backs. The top rail of the lower case sits in a groove in the front of the single-board, scallop-skirted case sides. The joints between case sides and front are concealed behind vertical veneers. The single-board, straight-skirted case back meets its sides in dovetail joints with small, thick-necked pins of slightly varying configuration, with half-pins above and below and later screws through the lower outer corners into the blocks atop the legs. The long-drawer supports, topped with glued-on drawer guides, are set into the grooves in the backboard and dovetail-cross-lapped to the drawer divider in front. Supports for the small drawers are set into grooves in the backboard and dovetail-cross-lapped to the case front. Guides for the small drawers are set into grooves in the case back and tenoned and double-wood-pinned to vertical stiles behind the case front. These stiles have shaped diagonal ends with rounded faces and are accompanied by small glue blocks. Guides for the flanking small drawers are fixed with nails and screws to the case sides and rabbeted to fit around the glue blocks for the rectangular tops of the "detachable" legs. The scalloped skirt centers a semi-circular stylized shell and a smaller, more realistic scallop shell within. Behind is a later, oblong block reinforcing an old repair. The prominently kerf-marked inside faces of the lower-case small-drawer fronts are like those above, slightly chamfered. The arch-topped drawer sides are slightly shorter in relation to the fronts than those above. The dovetail joints have small pins of varying configuration, with half-pins above and half-pins below. The single-board bottoms of the small drawers are perpendicular to the front and nailed with brads there and to the bottoms of the drawer sides and backs. The angular cabriole legs have acanthus-carved knees, including those at the outside corners of the rear legs, whose knees project beyond the back of the case. The ankles are deeply carved and the claws which grasp the undercut elongated balls have undercut talons with incised fronts and sides. Examined by P.E. Kane and J.N. Johnson, December 11, 2014; notes compiled by T.B. Lloyd.

Bibliography

American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 9, p. 1123, pl. 15.
Joseph K. Ott, The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture, exh. cat. (Providence: The Rhode Island Historical Society, 1965), 96–97, no. 62, Detail on p.168, fig. 62, ill.
Joseph K. Ott, "The John Brown House Loan Exhibition of Rhode Island Furniture," Antiques 87, no. 5 (May 1965): 568, fig. 13.
Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), 241–242, fig. 5.29, 5.29a–b.
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), 247–48, 363, 365, no. 161.
Harold Sack, "The Development of the American High Chest of Drawers," Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1123, pl. 15.
A Walk through the American Wing, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001), 31, fig. 23.
Morrison H. Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005), 14, 17–18, fig. 6.