323 S. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314 United States 703.299.0800
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Rococo Chest of Drawers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1760-1780

Origin United States, Pennsylvania
Period 18th Century
W. 33 in; H. 34 in; D. 18.74 in;
W. 83.82 cm; H. 86.36 cm; D. 47.6 cm;
Condition Excellent. The chest was carefully refinished a few years ago, to its current fine color and surface. The secondary areas are largely undisturbed, with superb oxidation. A detailed condition report is available upon request.
Description Although this fine chest of drawers has a solid provenance in an Annapolis, Maryland family, it is the product of a Philadelphia cabinetmaker. The piece rests on a cove and ovolo base molding with under-scaled ogee feet. The four drawers with lip-molded edges are graduated in scale, each with two pierced brasses and an iron lock. Full dustboards separate each drawer. It has a rectangular top with an ogee-molded edge that hangs over a large cove molding, which visually transitions the broad top to the narrow case below. In true Philadelphia style, fluted quarter columns flank the front of the frame.

Scholarship frequently cites Annapolis’ strong economic ties to England as the cause behind why many of the city’s elite imported most of their interior furnishings. While the credit relationship with England was a factor in Annapolitan economics, the region’s wealthy clientele also maintained financial ties to nearby Philadelphia and other port cities along the eastern seaboard. Such a relationship with a Philadelphia-based factor is likely the source for the Sands family’s ownership of this early piece of Philadelphia furniture.

Annapolis did support a community of local cabinetmakers; however, surviving furnishings and period documents suggest that they were just beginning their most active period at the time this chest of drawers was made. During this period, construction was just beginning for many of Annapolis’s great houses, including the Paca House, the Brice House, the Hammond-Harwood House. Artisans flocked to the city, increasing the number of craftsmen skilled in wood trades. The best-known Annapolitan artisan during this period was John Shaw, a Scottish émigré whose large body of labeled work continues to define Annapolis furniture production from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, in addition to Shaw, the city supported a number of other cabinetmakers including Archibald Chisholm and Gilbert Middleton. Contemporary scholarship is only beginning to shed light on the productive network of Annapolis cabinetmakers and their significant body of work. Following the conclusion of the Revolution, Baltimore began to out-pace Annapolis and many of the city’s talented craftsmen migrated north to fill the abundant need for artisans in the expanding city.

Illustrated documentation report available upon request.
Styles / Movements Rococo
Dealer Reference Number FR0995
Incollect Reference Number 124600
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