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American Decorative Arts
Maker: J. and J. W. Meeks

Desk and Bookcase

ca. 1836–1850

American black walnut, walnut veneer; inside of bookcase, much of desk interior, satinwood (Cholroxlyon spp.), probably C. swietenia, Ceylon satinwood, veneer; pulls on cylinder and desk interior drawers, probably rosewood; writing surface, sliding covers of wells, mahogany; yellow poplar; eastern white pine

92 9/16 × 53 3/8 × 24 1/16 in. (235.1 × 135.6 × 61.1 cm)
other (Lower case): 48 1/16 × 22 1/2 in. (122 × 57.1 cm)
other (Upper case): 47 13/16 × 12 in. (121.5 × 30.5 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
1971.70
The original owner of this chair, Henry G. Hubbard, spent time in New York City in the 1830s, where he may have seen the Meekses’ work, before returning to Middletown, Connecticut, where he was general manager of Russell Manufacturing Company. With its Gothic details, the desk and bookcase probably lent a romantic air to Hubbard’s library. The Meekses may have looked for inspiration to an English design, such as George Smith’s 1808 illustration of a Gothic-style cylinder desk and bookcase.
Geography: 
Made in New York, New York
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Furniture
Provenance: 

According to tradition, this desk and bookcase was owned originally by Henry Griswold Hubbard (1814-1891), president and general manager of Russell Manufacturing Company, Middletown, CT. The object descended in his family, to his daughter Margaret Sill Hubbard (d. 1908) and her husband Elijah K. Hubbard, Middletown; to his grandson, T. M. Russell, Sr. (d. 1935), Middletown; to Mrs. T. M. Russell, Jr., North Branford, CT. It was purchased from the family by Jerrold N. Moore, Woodbridge, CT, in 1964, and acquired by purchase by the Art Gallery in 1971.

Bibliography: 

John N. Pearce and Lorraine W. Pearce, “More on the Meeks Cabinetmakers,” Antiques 1, no. 90 (July 1966): 70, fig. 2.

“Acquisitions 1971,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 34, no. 1 (November 1972): 54.

Patricia E. Kane, “American Furniture in the Yale University Art Gallery,” Antiques 117, no. 5 (June 1980): 1325, fig. 13.

Marvin D. Schwartz, “Tradition and Innovation,” Antiques World 3, no. 2 (January 1980): 126.

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), 46, 327, 368–70, no. 190, pl. 16.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 96, 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.