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Object Details

Maker
Carving attributed to John Elliott (British, American, active Philadelphia 1753-1760)
Date
ca. 1755-1765
Geography
United States: Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
Culture
North American
Medium
wood; black walnut; Atlantic white cedar; yellow-poplar; southern yellow pine
Dimensions
Overall: 28 1/4 in x 35 1/4 in x 20 3/4 in; 71.755 cm x 89.535 cm x 52.705 cm
Provenance
Undocumented
Inscriptions
None
Credit Line
Gift of The Honorable Roger Kirk
Collection
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number
RR-1973.0065

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Chippendale Carved Walnut High Chest of Drawers

Chippendale Carved Walnut High Chest of Drawers

Elliott, John
ca. 1760
wood; black walnut; Atlantic white cedar; yellow-poplar; southern yellow pine; chestnut

Object Essay

A statement of early rococo aesthetics by an unknown Philadelphia cabinet shop, this dressing table relates to a high chest at Colonial Williamsburg signed by Henry Cliffton and Thomas Carteret and dated 1753.1Sack 1988, 1125. The carving of the legs, shell, and the flower at the center of the shell drawer have also been ascribed to the same shop that carved another high chest in the Department of State’s collection (see Acc. No. 67.17), as well as the Marshall high chest (collection of E.G. Nicholson of Hampton Falls, New Hampshire), on which the restoration of the applied vine carving on this dressing table was based.2This attribution was suggested orally to the author by Alan Miller and Luke Beckerdite. Miller restored the applied carving in 1989. Two cusps of the skirt have broken off, and the applied vine carvings on the shell drawer have been replaced. A third early high chest with a similarly shaped skirt and reticulated brass hardware is in the Henry Ford Museum.3The high chest, formerly in the collection of Marsden J. Perry of Providence, is illustrated in Campbell, 2.

An unusual feature of this dressing table is its quarter columns turned from a single piece of wood; more common are separately mounted bases and capitals, which required less time to execute. Also distinctive are the pronounced spurs on the ankles of the ball and claw feet, a detail that is also found on an early high chest in the Baltimore Museum of Art, variously attributed to Maryland and to Philadelphia.4The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Luck Beckerdite and Alan Miller, who brought these features and related examples to his attention.

Thomas S. Michie

Excerpted from Clement E. Conger, et al. Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991.