Chest of drawers

Collection Type

  • Furniture

Date

1755-1765

GUSN

GUSN-17234

Description

Block front chest; top has molded edge front and sides; top has substantial overhang; below are four graduated drawers; recessed central section, with bowed outer sections; space between drawers has simple beading continued around outer edges of drawers on left and right sides; bottom has molding same as top; chest rests on ogee bracket feet.

Details

Descriptive Terms

chests of drawers
case furniture
mahogany (wood)
eastern white pine (wood)
Mahogany
Pine
Chest Of Drawers

Label

Samuel Allyne Otis, a well-to-do Boston merchant, owned this chest of drawers made around 1755-1765 in Charlestown (part of present-day Boston). It represents a form known by twenty-first century furniture historians as a “blockfront” chest, named for its protruding and recessed drawer fronts. Blocked furniture first gained popularity in the 1730s. Eighteenth-century Americans often referred to blockfront furniture as “swelled,” a term that also referred to serpentine or oxbow shaped facades. In mid-eighteenth century Boston, Massachusetts, and Newport, Rhode Island, block front chests comprised some of the most expensive furniture made, due to the labor and waste that the form required. Cabinetmakers in Boston offered blockfront chests in rounded or square forms. This chest displays the rounded variety, as did many smaller chests of drawers and bureau tables. It displays fine dovetailing, and has similar features to five other blockfront pieces thought to have been made by the Frothingham cabinetmaking family of Charlestown. Such a costly and fashionable chest reflected Otis' wealth and prominence.

Maker

Possibly Frothingham, Benjamin (American cabinetmaker, 1734-1809) (Cabinetmaker)

Location of Origin

MA

Object Type

Furniture

Dimensions

29 x 34 9/16 x 21 1/16 (HxWxD) (inches)

Accession Number

1933.1508

Places

Massachusetts (United States)
Charlestown (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]