Serpentine Chest of DrawersMassachusetts, 1760-1780
H. 32 _ in.; W. 34 in.; D. 20 _ in.
Literature: Two related chests are illustrated as ÒBestÓ in Albert Sack, "Fine Points of Furniture" (N.Y., 1950), p. 100; and as ÒMasterpieceÓ in Albert Sack, "The New Fine Points of Furniture" (N.Y., 1993), p. 103.
This chest is one of the finest examples of a Colonial American serpentine -front chest known. The overhanging top, of highly figured mahogany, floats above a conforming case with four drawers and a bold base molding-- all with crisply blocked ends. The case is raised on bold, well-articulated, claw and ball feet. Flanked by shaped brackets.
Chests with serpentine blocked-end facades were among the most expensive forms of case furniture produced in eighteenth century New England.
This chest is an extremely successful example of the form in the beauty and execution of its design, and the selection of richly swirled dense mahogany. The proportions are superb; the narrow case is balanced by the generous overhanging top. In addition, the carved claw-and-ball feet are boldly carved expression of the design element, with well-articulated talons gripping the carved ball.
Please note: Typical of Boston practice, the top is attached to the case sides with a sliding dovetail, the drawers have fine dovetails and the drawer bottoms are chamfered are received into the drawer front and sides. The claw-and-ball feet are tenoned up through the case (rather than just being glued on the underside and secured with additional glue blocks in the standard manner. This through-tenon method was a more laborious means of construction, and thus yielded a stronger bond between the feet and the case).
Estimate: $50,000 - $80,000
Condition: The Brasses appear to be original.