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Luke Beckerdite
The Early Furniture of Christopher and Job Townsend

American Furniture 2000

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    A Plan of the Town of Newport in Rhode Island, surveyed by Charles Blaskowitz for the British Admiralty, 1777. Engraving on paper. (Courtesy, Newport Historical Society.) Easton’s Point is shown above and to the left of Goat Island.

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Christopher Townsend house and shop, 74 Bridge Street, Newport, Rhode Island, 1725–1735. (Courtesy, Newport Historical Society.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Detail of the interior of Christopher Townsend’s house. (Courtesy, Newport Historical Society.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Colony House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1739–1749. (Courtesy, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Detail of the senate chamber of the Colony House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Detail of the paneling in the senate chamber of the Colony House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Detail of a newel post in the Colony House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Detail of two newel posts in the Colony House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Detail of a turned pendant on a newel post in the Colony House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Joined table, Newport, Rhode Island, 1739–1749. Maple and white pine; blue paint. 
    H. 28 1/2", W. 42", D. 35 3/4". (Courtesy, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Detail of a leg on the table illustrated in fig. 10. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Cupboard, Newport, Rhode Island, 1739-1749. White pine; blue paint. Dimentions not recorded. (Courtesy, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Detail of the interior of Trinity Church, Newport, Rhode Island, 1725–1730. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the paneling in Trinity Church. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of the interior of the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1725–1730. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of the paneling in the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Detail of a turned pendant on a newel post in Trinity Church. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)
     

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Detail of a newel post and balusters on the stair leading to the pulpit in the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Detail of balusters on the stair leading to the gallery in the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    High chest attributed to Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1740–1750. Mahogany with tulip poplar. H. 83 5/8", W. 40 1/2", D. 22 1/4". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The chest retains its original china shelves, brass hardware, and finish.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Dressing table attributed to Job Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1746. Mahogany with white pine. H. 30 1/2", W. 34 1/2", D. 22 1/2". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    High chest, probably Long Island, New York, 1730–1740. Apple with tulip poplar. H. 70", W. 40", depth not recorded. (Courtesy, Florene Maine and Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    High chest, probably Long Island, New York, 1730–1740. Red gum with pine. 
    H. 70", W. 43", D. 22". (Private collection; photo, Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Detail of the dovetailed case construction of the dressing table illustrated in fig. 21. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the case and leg construction of the dressing table illustrated in fig. 21.

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Dressing table, Rappahannock River Basin of eastern Virginia, 1755–1770. Walnut with yellow pine. H. 28 1/2", W. 38", D. 20 1/4". (Courtesy, Sumpter Priddy, Inc.)

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of the case and leg construction of the dressing table illustrated in fig. 26.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    High chest signed by Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1748. Walnut with pine. H. 70", W. 38 1/2", D. 20 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail of the case construction of the high chest illustrated in fig. 28. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Detail of a rabbeted rear leg on the high chest illustrated in fig. 20. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of a foot on the high chest illustrated in fig. 20. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Dining table probably by Christopher or John Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1745–1755. Mahogany with maple and pine. H. 30 5/8", W. 68 1/2", D. 68 3/4" (open). (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Desk-and-bookcase by Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1745–1755. Mahogany throughout. Dimensions not recorded. (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Detail of the silver mount on the right fallboard support of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 33. (Courtesy, Sotheby’s.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Desk-and-bookcase bearing the label of Job Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1750–1765. Mahogany with chestnut and tulip poplar. H. 82 1/2", W. 40", D. 24 1/2". (Courtesy, Rhode Island School of Design; gift of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The pediment is missing. www.risd.edu

  • Figure 36
    Figure 36

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1735–1755. Mahogany with unrecorded secondary woods. H. 108", W. 36", depth not recorded. (Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., Important American Furniture from the Estate of the late Cornelius C. Moore, Newport, Rhode Island, New York, October 30, 1971, lot 154.) The door panels are missing, and the feet are incorrect replacements.

  • Figure 37
    Figure 37

    Detail showing the attachment of the cornice molding on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 33. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 38
    Figure 38

    Detail of a finial and section of cornice molding on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 33. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 39
    Figure 39

    Detail of a glued-in drawer bottom on the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 33. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 40
    Figure 40

    High chest, probably Job or Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1730–1750. Walnut, maple and walnut veneer, and lightwood inlay with white pine and maple. H. 70 3/8", W. 38", D. 20 1/4". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The mid-molding is replaced.

  • Figure 41
    Figure 41

    Bureau table, probably Job or Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1740–1750. Mahogany with white pine. H. 34 1/4", W. 37 1/2", D. 21". (Joseph and June Hennage collection; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 42
    Figure 42

    Bureau table, probably Job or Christopher Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1740–1750. Mahogany with white pine. H. 34 1/2", W. 39 1/4", D. 21". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 43
    Figure 43

    Detail of the concave shell on the upper drawer of the bureau table illustrated in fig. 42. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 44
    Figure 44

    Bureau table attributed to John Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1765–1770. Mahogany with white pine, chestnut, and tulip poplar. H. 34 3/8", W. 36 1/2.", D. 20 1/2.". (Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909 (10.125.83) Photograph © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 45
    Figure 45

    Bureau table attributed to Edmund Townsend, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1780. Mahogany with chestnut and white pine. H. 33", W. 36 1/4", D. 20 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Sotheby’s.)

  • Figure 46
    Figure 46

    Desk by John Goddard, Newport, Rhode Island, 1745. Mahogany with white pine. H. 42", W. 35 1/2", D. 19". (Chipstone Foundation; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 47
    Figure 47

    Desk, Newport, Rhode Island, 1760–1770. Maple with chestnut and tulip poplar. H. 40 7/8", W. 38 3/8", D. 20 7/16". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.)