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American Decorative Arts

High Chest of Drawers


Drawer fronts, front face, walnut veneer and a burl veneer on eastern white pine; applied moldings, cock beading, walnut; legs, feet, stretchers, sides of upper and lower case, soft maple; top and bottom of upper case, aspen; drawer linings, dustboards, drawer dividers, back of upper case, dowels in feet, other elements, chestnut

66 1/8 × 40 1/2 × 22 in. (167.96 × 102.87 × 55.88 cm)
other (Upper case): 36 1/8 × 18 9/16 in. (91.8 × 47.2 cm)
other (Lower case): 37 5/16 × 19 15/16 in. (94.8 × 50.6 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
The high chest, where a chest of drawers was mounted on top of a base, was a new form in the late seventeenth century. The highly figured burl veneer of this chest, with a herringbone veneer outlining the drawers, is typical of cabinetmaking practices at this time. The shaping of the front skirt is similar to that found on many high chests of this period from New York and New England.
Made in Rhode Island
On view
18th century

Israel Sack, New York; by sale in February 1921 to Francis P. Garvan, New York. Gift in 1930 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Walter Rendell Storey, “Colonial Handicraft Gains New Luster,” New York Times (1929), SM8, ill.

Loan Exhibition of Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Furniture and Glass, exh. cat. (New York: American Art Galleries, 1929), n.p., no. 510.

Thomas H. Ormsbee, The Story of American Furniture (New York: MacMillan Company, 1934), 255–256, fig. 111a.

Charles Nagel, Jr., American Furniture: 1650–1850 (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1949), 26, 38, pl. 6b.

Albert Sack, Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1950), 175, ill.

Helen Comstock, The Concise Encyclopedia of American Antiques, 2 vols. (London: The Connoisseur, 1958), 29, pl. 6B (as Henry Ford Museum).

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), 82–84, fig. 68.

“American Arts and the American Experience,” Museum News 53, no. 3 (November 1974): 37–38.

Wendy A. Cooper, “In Praise of America,” Antiques 117, no. 3 (March 1980): 5, fig. 2.

John T. Kirk, American Furniture and the British Tradition to 1830 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), 192, fig. 546.

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), 10, 40–41, 235, 237–39, 242, 244, 255, 458, no. 122, pl. 11.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 87, ill.

Patricia E. Kane et al., Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2016), 31n44, 154n2, 161n4.

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.