Chipstone
Menu

Wendy A. Cooper and Tara L. Gleason
A Different Rhode Island Block-and-Shell Story: Providence Provenances and Pitch-Pediments

American Furniture 1999

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Desk-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1775–1785. Mahogany with white pine. H. 97", W. 42", D. 26". (Courtesy, Rhode Island Historical Society; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Chest-on-chest, Providence, Rhode Island, 1775–1785. Mahogany with chestnut and white pine. H. 86 3/4", W. 41 1/2", D. 21 3/4". (Kaufman American Collection; photo, Dirk Bakker.) John Brown’s daughters inscribed the piece “1785/Abby Brown/1786/Sally Brown.”

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Chest-on-chest, Providence, Rhode Island, 1775–1790. Mahogany with chestnut and white pine. H. 91", W. 40 3/8", D. 22". (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    John Carlisle, Jr., desk, Providence, Rhode Island, 1760–1785. Mahogany with chestnut, white pine, and cedar. H. 43 1/2", W. 42 1/2", D. 22 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Chest-on-chest, Providence, Rhode Island, 1785–1800. Mahogany with white pine. H. 92 1/2", W. 42 3/4", D. 24 1/2". (Courtesy, Cleveland Museum of Art, gift of Moselle Taylor Meals.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Desk-and-bookcase, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1790. Mahogany with chestnut, white pine, yellow pine, and cherry. H. 107 1/4", W. 44 2/3", D. 25 1/5". (Courtesy, Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Joseph Brown house, 50 South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island, 1773–1774. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Owners of Lots in Providence from Power Street to Smith Street, taken from Henry R. Chace, Owners and Occupants of the Lots, Houses, and Shops in the Town of Providence Rhode Island in 1798 (Providence: Livermore & Knight, 1914), pl. 3. (Courtesy, Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur Museum Library.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Chest-on-chest, Newport, Rhode Island, 1762–1775. Mahogany with chestnut, cherry, and pine. H. 82 1/2", W. 42", D. 21 1/2". (Courtesy, Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Tall case clock with movement by George Sommersall (London), Providence, Rhode Island, 1765–1785. Mahogany with white pine. H. 84 1/2", W. 20 1/4", D. 11 5/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Tall case clock with movement by Seril Dodge, Providence, Rhode Island, 1765–1785. Mahogany with white pine and maple. H. 85 1/2", W. 21", D. 10 5/8". (Private collection; photo, Sotheby’s.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Desk-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1769–1775. Mahogany with chestnut and white pine. H. 86", W. 39 1/2", D. 23". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Second-floor hallway of the Nicholas Brown, Jr., house, 357 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island, ca. 1870. (Photograph, courtesy, John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization, Brown University.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Secretary-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1795–1810. Mahogany with chestnut, cedar, and white pine. H. 110", W. 47", D. 22 7/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Secretary-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1795–1810. Mahogany with cherry and white pine. H. 100 1/4", W. 48", D. 43 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Owners of Lots in Providence, taken from Henry R. Chace, Owners and Occupants of the Lots, Houses, and Shops in the Town of Providence Rhode Island in 1798 , pl. 11. (Courtesy, Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur Museum Library.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Desk-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1765–1785. Cherry with chestnut and white pine. H. 92 3/8", W. 38 1/2", D. 23 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The use of chestnut as a secondary wood is common in Rhode Island furniture but relatively rare in Massachusetts work.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Owners of Lots in Providence from Power Street to Fox Point, taken from Henry R. Chace, Owners and Occupants of the Lots, Houses, and Shops in the Town of Providence Rhode Island in 1798, pl. 1. (Courtesy, Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur Museum Library.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Detail of a convex shell on a Newport chest of drawers. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Detail of a convex shell on the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Detail of a foot on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Detail of a foot on the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Detail showing the front foot construction of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail showing the rear foot construction of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the dovetails on a drawer from a Newport chest of drawers. (Courtesy, Winterthur Museum.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Detail showing the saw kerf on a drawer from the chest-on-chest illustrated in 
    fig. 3.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of the interior of the desk illustrated in fig. 4. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail of miter joints on the doors of the secretary-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 14. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    High chest, attributed to Grindal Rawson, Providence, Rhode Island, 1750–1770. Cherry with chestnut and pine. H. 72", W. 38 3/4", D. 22". (Courtesy, Decorative Arts Photographic Collection, Winterthur Museum Library.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail of the knee carving on the high chest illustrated in fig. 29.

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of the carving on the plinth of the tall clock case illustrated in fig. 10. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Tall case clock with movement by Edward Spalding, Providence, Rhode Island, 1765–1785. Mahogany with pine and chestnut. H. 96", W. 19", D. 12". (Private collection; photo Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Tall case clock with movement by Edward Spalding, Providence, Rhode Island, 1765–1785. Walnut. Dimensions not recorded. (Courtesy, John S. Walton.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Detail of a rosette on the tall case clock illustrated in fig. 10. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Detail of a rosette on the tall case clock illustrated in fig. 11. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Detail of a rosette on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 17. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Detail of a through-tenon used in the construction of the hood of the tall case clock illustrated in fig. 10. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Detail of a through-tenon used in the construction of the tall case clock illustrated in fig. 10. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Detail of one of the fallboard supports and blocking of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 17. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    Detail of the interior of the bookcase section of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 17. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Detail of the interior of the desk section of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 17. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Detail of the interior of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 12. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Detail of a door on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 12. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Detail of the joint between the base molding and bottom board of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 12. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The sides of the dovetails are not as flared as those on Massachusetts examples.

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Chest of drawers, Newport or Providence, Rhode Island, 1755–1785. Mahogany with yellow poplar, white pine, red cedar, and chestnut. H. 32 2/5", W. 36 4/5", D. 21 1/5". (Courtesy, Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection.)

  • Figrue 46
    Figrue 46

    Detail of a foot on the desk illustrated in fig. 4. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Detail of the interior of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 48
    Figure 48

    Detail of the joint between the base molding and bottom board of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 2. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 49
    Figure 49

    Detail of a shell on a drawer of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 50
    Figure 50

    Detail of the score marks on an interior backboard of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 2. (Courtesy, Kaufman Americana Collection; Photo, Gavin Ashworth.) These marks were probably made by a lumberman grading or sorting the planks.

  • Figure 51
    Figure 51

    Chalk sketch of a side chair drawn on a drawer bottom of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 52
    Figure 52

    Chalk sketch of an urn finial drawn on the bottom board of the lower case of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 53
    Figure 53

    Clothespress, Philadelphia, 1780–1790. Mahogany with tulip poplar and white cedar. H. 100", W. 47 3/4", D. 24 1/2". (Private collection, on loan to the Rhode Island Historical Society; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 54
    Figure 54

    Detail of the dovetails on a drawer of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 5.

  • Figure 55
    Figure 55

    Detail of the dovetails on a drawer of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3.

  • Figure 56
    Figure 56

    Detail of the waist moldings of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 5. (Artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 57
    Figure 57

    Detail of the waist moldings of the chest-on-chest illustrated in fig. 3. (Artwork, Wynne Patterson.)

  • Figure 58
    Figure 58

    Desk-and-bookcase, Providence, Rhode Island, 1760–1785 (desk), 1795–1810 (bookcase). Mahogany with chestnut, white pine, and cedar. H. 95 1/2", W. 42 1/2", D. 22 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The bookcase was produced at a later date to accompany the desk by John Carlile, Jr. (see fig. 4).

  • Figure 59
    Figure 59

    Detail showing the back edge of the cornice moldings of the secretary-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 15. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 60
    Figure 60

    Desk-and-bookcase, Providence or Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1790. Mahogany with cherry, chestnut, and tulip poplar. H. 89", W. 39", D. 24". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)