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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.
chests of drawers
eastern white pine (wood)
Chest Of Drawers
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.
Possibly Frothingham, Benjamin (American cabinetmaker, 1734-1809) (Cabinetmaker)
29 x 34 9/16 x 21 1/16 (HxWxD) (inches)
Massachusetts (United States)
Charlestown (Boston, Suffolk county, Massachusetts) [neighborhood]