Chest Maker: Unknown


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

Under Spanish rule, the most typical piece of movable furniture that would be found in colonial New Mexican homes was the chest, or caja. This chest belongs to a group joined with dovetails and pegs and decorated with low-relief carving. The carved imagery heralds back to Spain. Chests with this distinctive construction and carving may have originated in the Rio Abajo area of New Mexico.


Probably Ponderosa pine and iron


18 1/2 × 52 × 18 in. (47 × 132.1 × 45.7 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, by exchange

Accession Number



18th–19th century


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 records is ongoing.



The provenance provides no information about what Hispanic family might have originally owned this object. According to the seller, the chest was in a private collection in Los Angeles, California, then passed to the Zaplin Lambert Gallery, Santa Fe, and then to the Dewey Galleries.

  • 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), 54–55, no. 23, ill.
  • Dennis Andrew Carr, American Colonial Furniture: Guide to the Collection, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 15–16, fig. 29.
  • "Acquisitions 2000," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2001): 151, ill.
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