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American Decorative Arts
Photo credit: Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, by exchange, 1964.46

High Chest of Drawers

1730–70

Varieties of woods are used almost interchangeably within this object. Dark burl veneer on exterior, maple, probably soft maple; light-colored veneer, staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina); thin strips of dark stained veneer on sides of upper case, probably maple; legs, cornice, midmoldings, soft maple; half-round moldings, drops, American black walnut; top and bottom of upper case, some drawer fronts, some drawer dividers, some drawer bottoms and backs, chestnut; backboards of upper case, southern yellow pine and eastern white pine; one drawer divider in upper case, red oak; sides of upper case, formed by a central panel of hard maple, probably sugar maple, flanked by panels of sycamore; drawer front and linings, mixture of eastern hemlock, chestnut, maple, eastern white pine, southern yellow pine, and either Atlantic white cedar or northern white cedar

71 7/8 × 37 7/16 × 21 1/4 in. (182.6 × 95.1 × 54 cm) other (Lower case): 35 7/8 × 20 1/4 in.(91.1 × 51.5 cm) other (Upper case): 34 3/16 × 19 5/16 in.(86.8 × 49.1 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, by exchange
1964.46
Several features suggest that this unusual high chest was made in Rhode Island, or perhaps in eastern Connecticut. Among the Rhode Island-style elements are the central drop on the skirt and the drawer construction featuring thin drawer linings and running strips. With its richly veneered surfaces, this high chest is an outstanding example of stylish, rurally made furniture.
Geography: 
Made in Connecticut, Eastern
or made in Rhode Island
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Furniture
Provenance: 

Collection of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I. (20.843); Mrs. Eliza Greene Metclaf Radeke, 1855–1931. It is probably the "really remarkable highboy" with "walnut burl inlay" and "features.that make it wholly unique" that

Bibliography: 

American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1989), vol. 1, p. 20, no. 67, ill.

Ruth Davidson, “In the Museums,” Antiques 88, no.3 (September 1965): 356, ill.

“Recent Gifts and Purchases, January 1–December 31, 1964,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 30, no. 2 (March 1965): 34, ill.

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), 40–41, fig. 26.

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), 42, 235, 253–55, no. 132, pl. 12.

Harold Sack, “The Development of the American High Chest of Drawers,” Antiques 133, no. 5 (May 1988): 1117, fig. 3.

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.