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Peter Kenny
Ark of the Covenant: The Remarkable Inlaid Cedar Scrutoir from the Brinckerhoff Family of Newtown, Long Island

American Furniture 2014

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Scrutoir, Kings or Queens County, Long Island, New York, 1700–1725. Red cedar, red cedar and walnut veneers, and light and dark wood inlay with Atlantic white cedar, sweet gum, oak, chestnut, yellow poplar, and hard pine. H. 67", W. 41 3/4", D. (cornice) 22". (Courtesy, Museum of the City of New York; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Photograph of the Brinckerhoff scrutoir from The Family of Joris Dircksen Brinckerhoff, 1638 (New York: Richard Brinkerhoff Publisher, 1887).

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Scrutoir stamped “Edward Evans/1707,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1707. Black walnut with white cedar and yellow pine. H. 66 1/2", W. 44 1/2", D. 19 1/4". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Scrutoir illustrated in fig. 3 with the fall front open.

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Scrutoir, Rhode Island, 1700–1730. Walnut and walnut veneer with chestnut and white pine, H. 66", W. 39 3/4", D. 18 1/2". (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.) 

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Scrutoir illustrated in fig. 5 with the fall front open.

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Desk-on-frame, New York City or vicinity, New York, 1695–1720. Sweet gum and mahogany veneer with yellow poplar. H. 35 1/4", W. 34 1/2", D. 24 1/8". (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Desk, New York or Rhode Island, 1700–1730. Black walnut, unidentified burl veneer, and Cuban oyster wood (interior drawer pulls) with white pine, black walnut, yellow poplar, and cherry. H. 41 1/4", W. 36 1/4", D. 19 5/8" (closed). (Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Bayou Bend Collection.) This desk is catalogued as New York by Bayou Bend but after the discovery of the Child scrutoir (see figs. 5 and 6) is now considered by some scholars to be of Rhode Island origin. 

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Detail of the interior of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1, showing its original long iron hinges, secret drawers removed, and hinged top board for a secret compartment open. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Scrutoir, England, ca. 1695. Walnut, burl elm, and seaweed marquetry; secondary woods not recorded. H. 65", W. 46", D. 19 1/2". (Private collection; photo, courtesy Millington Adams Ltd., Knutsford, Cheshire, Eng.) This scrutoir is illustrated in Percy MacQuoid’s Age of Walnut (1905). The turned feet and drop handles are restored. 

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Robert Ryder, Long Iland Siruade by Robartte Ryder (London, [1679?]). 23 3/4" x 31 5/8". (Courtesy, John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.)

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Detail of the map illustrated in fig. 11, showing the town of Newtown and Flushing Bay. 

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Detail of the secret drawer from the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the side of a drawer from the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. The front, sides, and rear boards are rabbeted on their lower inside edge, and the bottom is nailed into the rabbets on all four sides. Walnut banding on the drawer front covers the end grain of the dovetails, while the steep pitch of the top edge is a feature characteristic of the drawers in New York kasten. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of the central interior door of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1, showing the cast brass keyhole escutcheon. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Detail of two interior drawers of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1, showing the original pulls with cast brass backplates. (Photo,Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Plate from Andrea Palladio, The First Book of Architecture, translated from the Italian with an appendix on doors and windows by Pierre Le Muet (1591–1669). Translated into English by Godfrey Richards (London: Eben. Tracy, 1716).

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Interior doorway in the Pieter Bronck House, Coxsackie, New York, 1700–1738. (Courtesy, Bronck Museum, Greene County Historical Society, Coxsackie; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Kast, Albany, New York, 1710–1735. Gum with tulip poplar and white pine. H. 78 1/2", W. 75 7/16", D. 29 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) 

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Detail of the cornice of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Tavola IX, Capitello, e cornicione Dorico, from Regola delle cinque ordini d’architettura di Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola (Rome, 1563). (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Plate showing an entablature in the Ionic order from The First Book of Architecture by Andrea Palladio Translated out of Italian...by Godfrey Richards (London: James Knapton, 1721). (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Back of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Chest of drawers, southeastern Pennsylvania, 1710–1735. Walnut with white cedar, yellow pine, and oak. H. 41 1/2", W. 42 5/8", D. 23 3/4". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The chest is made in two parts.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the top of the chest of drawers illustrated in fig. 24. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1 with the fall front open. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Detail of the interior of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail of the back face of the lower drawer in the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1, showing circular recesses cut with an incannel gouge. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Detail of the fall front of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Left side of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of the figure inlaid into the left side of the upper case of the scrutoir illustrated in fig. 1. (Photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Jan (Pietersz.) Saenredam (ca. 1565–1607) after Abraham Bloemart (1566–1651). Adam and Eve. Engraving. 11" x 7 15/16". (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Nicolaes Visscher I (1618–1679), Earthly Paradise or the Garden of Eden, map drawn for inclusion in Abraham van den Broeck’s Dutch Staten Bible, 1657. (Courtesy, Geographicus.) 

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Gerardus Duyckinck I (1695–1746), Christ Healing the Blind Man, ca. 1725–1730. Oil on canvas, 35 1/4" x 45". (Courtesy, Metropolitan Museum of Art.)