American Cherry Wood Block-Front Chest of the Chippendale Period

Massachusetts probably Boston.  Circa 1770

Carcase of white pine

This block front chest of drawers is a sophisticated example of New England furniture made in Massachusetts during the Chippendale period. It incorporates a block fronted rectangular top above a conforming case fitted with four long graduated drawers. The whole is supported on shaped ogee bracket feet. The sides of the pine lined drawers have distinctive grooves to the top surfaces which are a feature of this period of American furniture.

According to a naively hand written label of the family tree attached to the reverse, the chest belonged to Sarah Williston Whitney (1800-1833), a member of the prominent Dwight family of New England through her marriage to Josiah Dwight Whitney (1786-1869). Their two sons , also mentioned on the label, both achieved eminence in their successive fields, with Josiah Whitney 11(1819-1896) becoming professor of Geology at Harvard and his linguistic brother William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894) editing the Century Dictionary.

The association with the Whitney family is further confirmed by an old family division label identifying this chest as the property of Emily Whitney ( born 1864), daughter of William Dwight Whitney.

When we acquired this chest of drawers it was supported on later turned feet which had been added circa 1840, probably to suit the current fashion. We have retained these feet which are available for inspection.

However, as we discovered traces of the original feet, we arranged for the chest to go to Arlington Restoration of London for assessment with a view to replicating the original feet.  After much research and expense, Arlington created the existing feet which they deem to be close to the originals.  A document from Arlington detailing the restoration and cost is available to the buyer.

 Reference Furniture Treasury Vol 2 by Wallace Nutting for identical metalwork:

NOS 3650 and 3663.

A Field Guide to American Furniture Joseph T. Butler page 273 illus.  1 and 2 for related chests of drawers made in Massachusetts.


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