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Slant-lid desk. Mahogany and cherry with white pine and other secondary wood. Serpentine drawer fronts, three drawers. Fall-front opens to reveal central door with ogee paneling. Four pigeonholes with shaped ogee cornices flank each side of central door. Two tiers of drawers with brass pulls surmount pigeonholes; long top drawers with shaped cornices above two shorter drawers. Cherry lid supports with mahogany facings. Straight molded skirt with two foliate-carved c-scroll central drops. Heavy ball and claw feet with foliate carved knees, brackets and drops; side handles.
eastern white pine (wood)
From the swirling grain of mahogany veneer that traces large whorls on the lid of this piece, to the carved acanthus leaves and c-scrolls that embellish the knees of the legs, this desk, made around 1780-1803, is an example of the finest Massachusetts craftsmanship. To accommodate the height of its extraordinary legs with large sharply articulated ball and claw feet, the maker had to eliminate the traditional fourth drawer of most desks of this period. This suggests the prospective owner was prepared to accept style over convenience. Furniture historians cite John Austin, carver and Revolutionary patriot of Charlestown, Massachusetts, as the possible carver of the desk's cabriole legs, ball and claw feet, and central drop. An inscription on the back of the desk reads Thomas Austin/August 10, 1803, which indicates that John Austin's son, merchant Thomas Austin, owned it.
"Thomas Austin/August 10, 1803"
Austin, Thomas (Maker)
44 x 44 3/8 x 24 (HxWxD) (inches)
Bequest of Eleanor Clarke Bowser