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American Decorative Arts



Front of case, drawer front and sides, balusters, soft maple; sides of case, bottom of drawer, eastern hemlock; drawer back, backboards, shelf, other secondary wood, eastern white pine

52 9/16 × 36 15/16 × 19 in. (133.5 × 93.9 × 48.2 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
The shape of this cupboard is similar to seventeenth-century examples. The squiggly black lines painted on the tiger maple create a lively surface, similar to the prevailing taste for veneered furniture. This cupboard was probably made for Sarah Rowell (1722–unknown), who lived in rural Salisbury, Massachusetts.
Made in New Hampshire
Probably made in Hampton
On view
17th–18th century

According to a tradition recorded in the 1920s, this cupboard was redecorated as a dower chest for Sarah Rowell, who married Benjamin Moulton (b. 1721) at an unspecified date, possibly in the 1740s. The Rowell family was located in Hampton, Hampton Falls, and South Hampton, NH, and the surrounding area from the seventeenth century. The name Sarah was a popular family choice, making identification of the owner of the cupboard difficult. She may have been the Sarah Rowell born in 1722 in nearby Salisbury, MA, the daughter of Job and Bethiah (Brown) Rowell. The cupboard descended in the family to a Miss Smith of Exeter, NH, who sold it to Mr. Charles W. Arnold, a leather manufacturer of Haverhill, MA. After placing the cupboard on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for several years, Arnold sold the cupboard in 1929 to Francis P. Garvan, New York, through Henry Hammond Taylor, Bridgeport, CT. Gift in 1930 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury, 1st ed., 3 vols. (Framingham, Mass.: Old American Company Publishers, 1928–33), n.p., no. 472.

Esther S. Fraser, “Pioneer Furniture from Hampton, New Hampshire,” Antiques 4, no. 17 (April 1930): 313, fig. 2.

Nina Fletcher Little, “Country Furniture: A Symposium,” Antiques 3, no. 93 (March 1968): 348, fig. 3.

John T. Kirk, Early American Furniture: How to Recognize, Evaluate, and Care for the Most Beautiful Pieces: High Style, Country, Primitive and Rustic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 88–91, fig. 77.

Dean A. Fales, Jr., American Painted Furniture, 1660–1880, eds. Robert Bishop and Cyril I. Nelson (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1972), 45, fig. 56.

Victor Chinnery, Oak Furniture: The British Tradition (Suffolk, England: Antique Collector’s Club Ltd., 1979), 513, 515, fig. 4:228.

Marshall B. Davidson, The Bantam Illustrated Guide to Early American Furniture (New York: Bantam Books, 1980), 8, fig. 7.

John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 201, fig. 589.

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), 48, 375, 382, 387–89, no. 199, pl. 18.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 88, 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.