American Decorative Arts
Cabinetmaker: Stephen Badlam, American, 1751–1815
Carver: John Skillin, American, 1746–1800
Carver: Simeon Skillin, Jr., American, 1757–1806

Chest-on-Chest

1791

Mahogany, mahogany veneer on chestnut, eastern white pine, and red pine

256.9 x 130.8 x 60.3 cm (101 1/8 x 51 1/2 x 23 3/4 in.)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
1930.2003

Following the Revolution, some citizens sought domestic objects that would express in the most elaborate ways America's pride in having achieved independence. Shipping magnate Elias Hasket Derby (1739--1799), a prominent citizen of Salem, Massachusetts, could well afford to do so. In commissioning this massive piece from Stephen Badlam, a war veteran from a town south of Boston, Derby took the unusual step of engaging leading Boston sculptors to carve figures for the pediment of the case. Rising to the challenge set by their patron, John Skillin and his brother Simeon created a scheme of three females in fashionable Neoclassical dress and distinctive accessories imbued with allegorical meaning. The figure on the left, holding an olive wreath and a palm frond, personifies Peace. On the right is Plenty, clasping a cornucopia. The central figure wears the gilt-sun brooch and laurel wreath associated with Virtue, while the Phrygian cap on a liberty pole is an attribute of Liberty. Through this combination of attributes, she represents America. Family tradition has it that Derby and his wife, Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby, gave this piece as a wedding present to their daughter Anstis, who married Benjamin Pickman, Jr., of Salem in 1789.

Geography: 
Made in Dorchester Lower Mills, Massachusetts
and made in Boston, Massachusetts
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Furniture
Status: 
On view*
Bibliography: 

Fiske Kimball, “Some Carved Figures by Samuel McIntire,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 18 (August 1923): 195, ill.

R. T. Haines Halsey and Charles O. Cornelius, A Handbook of the American Wing, 2nd (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1925), 205.

Felice Davis, “American Furniture: The Second or Revolutionary Period in American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum,” Antiquarian 5 (September 1925): 12, ill.

William Farquhar Payson, ed., Mahogany, Antique and Modern (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1926), 117–18, ill.

Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1928–33), no. 324, ill.

Mabel M. Swan, “A Revised Estimate of McIntire,” Antiques 20 (December 1931): 341, fig. 6.

Fiske Kimball, “Furniture Carvings by Samuel McIntire,” Antiques 19 (March 1931): 207–9, fig. 2–4.

Associates in Fine Arts, Yale University, “Handbook: A Description of the Gallery of Fine Arts and the Collections,” Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 5, nos. 1–3 (1931): 62, ill.

Homer Eaton Keyes, “Milton, Beverly, and Salem,” Antiques 23 (April 1933): 142, fig. 1.

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), 222–23, fig. 173.

Homer Eaton Keyes, “Editor’s Attic,” Antiques 31 (March 1937): 114, fig. 4.

Edward Stratton Holloway, The Practical Book of American Furniture and Decoration: Colonial and Federal (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1937), n.p., pl. 40.

John Marshall Phillips, “Outstanding Examples from the Mabel Brady Garvan Collections,” Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 8, no. 2 (February 1938): 45, ill.

Sherrill Whiton, Elements of Interior Decoration, rev. ed. (Chicago: J. B. Lippincott, 1944), 264, ill.

Mabel M. Swan, “Boston’s Carvers and Joiners, Part I,” Antiques 53 (March 1948): 198, fig. 1.

Charles Nagel, Jr., American Furniture: 1650–1850 (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1949), 58, 65, pl. 24.

Edwin O. Christensen, Early American Wood Carving (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1952), 132.

Mabel M. Swan, “General Stephen Bedlam: Cabinet and Looking-Glass Maker,” Antiques 65 (May 1954): 380, ill.

Larry Freeman, Federal-Empire, 3 (Watkins Glen, N.Y.: Century House Americana, 1956), 2, 8.

Ethel Hall Bjerkoe, The Cabinetmakers of America (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957), n.p., pl. XXI.

Helena Hayward, ed., World Furniture: An Illustrated History (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1965), 195, fig. 726.

Wayne Craven, Sculpture in America (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968), n.p., fig. 1.7.

John Cornforth, “From Mayflower to Monroe: Yale University Furniture,” Country Life 155 (January 3–10, 1974): 25.

Tom Armstrong, 200 Years of American Sculpture (Boston: David R. Godine, 1976), n.p., fig. 123, 124.

Charles F. Montgomery and Patricia E. Kane, eds., American Art: 1750–1800 Towards Independence, exh. cat. (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), n.p., [included in catalogue but not in exhibition], fig. 70.

Bernard Bailyn, The Great Republic (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, Inc., 1977), 228.

Carol Olsen, “Stylistic Developments of Ship Figureheads of the United States East Coast,” International Journal of Nautical Archeology and Underwater Exploration 8 (November 1979): 13.

Marvin D. Schwartz, “The Boston Heritage in Furniture,” Antique World 1 (October 1979): 91.

Patricia E. Kane, “American Furniture in the Yale University Art Gallery,” Antiques 117, no. 5 (June 1980): 1321, pl. VIII.

Jonathan L. Fairbanks and Elizabeth Bidwell Bates, American Furniture:1620 to the Present (New York: Richard Marek Publishers, 1981), 200, ill.

Charles F. Montgomery, “Francis P. Garvan,” Antiques 121, no. 1 (January 1982): 247, fig. 4.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 56–57, ill.

John S. Bowan, American Furniture (New York: Exeter, 1985), 80.

Gerald W. R. Ward, American Case Furniture in the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1988), 14, 36–37, 163, 171–77, no. 82, pl. 7.

Handbook of the Collections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 92, ill.

Wayne Craven, American Art: History and Culture (Boston: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1994), 165, fig. 12.3.

Dean T. Lahikainen, Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style, 1st, exh. cat. (Salem, Mass.: Peabody Essex Museum, 2007), 61, References on p. 14, 52, and 60; detail of central figure, p. 87, fig. 3-78; detail of PL figure, p. 161, fig. 4-137., fig. 3-17.

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 110–11, no. 53, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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