American Decorative Arts
Maker, attributed to: Robert Crossman, American, 1707–1779

Lift-Top Chest with Drawer


White pine, iron cotter-pin hinges, cast brass pulls and escutcheons with bright-cut engraving, and original painted decoration

32 3/4 × 38 × 17 7/8 in. (83.19 × 96.52 × 45.4 cm)
Gift of Jane and Gerald Katcher, LL.B. 1950
This chest attributed to Robert Crossman is an early example of painted pattern applied to a plain painted-furniture surface. Esther Stevens Fraser was the first scholar to identify Crossman as the maker of a group of related chests, more than a dozen of which survive. Fraser suggests that one of the Crossman chests, with the initials and date “PC 1731,” was made by Crossman for his sister Phoebe (1713–1805) upon her marriage to John Cook, of Kingston, Massachusetts. The inscription identified the chest for posterity as being among the movables brought into the marriage by Phoebe. This chest, which has the same date, may also have been made for Phoebe. The source of the design is the tree-of-life pattern, which features a tree on a hillock with scrolling branches and downward-pointing flowers with birds flanking the base of the tree.
Made in Taunton, Massachusetts
On view
18th century

George Coe Graves, Osterville, Massachusetts, by 1929; by gift to Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1930–56; Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 15-16 November 1956, lot 434; [unknown]; Phyllis and Robert Mallory III, White Plains, New York, by 1998; consigned by her estate to Independent Appraisers and Auctioneers, Bronxville, New York, June 17, 2001, lot 467; by purchase to David A. Schorsch and Eileen M. Smiles, Woodbury, Conn.; by purchase to Jane and Gerald Katcher, Coconut Grove, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado; by gift to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2012


Jane Katcher, David A. Schorsch, and Ruth Wolfe, eds., Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana, I (Seattle: Marquand Books, 2006), 171-175, 364, no. 101.

Benjamin Colman, “The Magazine Antiques,” The Magazine Antiques (2014): 137, ill.

Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, Arms and Armor, Reinaissance Sculptures, Bronzes, Majolica - American and Other Furniture, Silver and Decorations, sale cat. (1956), 81.

Emelie Gevalt, “Revisiting Taunton: Robert Crosman, Esther Stevens Brazer, and the Changing Interpretations of Taunton Chests,” American Furniture (2018): 152–53, 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.