Gentleman's secretary

1800–10
Carved by Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811)


Object Place: Salem, Massachusetts

Catalogue Raisonné

Randall 67

Dimensions

228.6 x 170.2 x 60.0 cm (90 x 67 x 23 5/8 in.)

Accession Number

26.12

Medium or Technique

Mahogany, mahogany veneer, pine, cedar

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Case furniture and boxes

Style of Sheraton; mahogany with four glass doors, shaped cornice with four small urns and gold eagle. Front top middle drawer opens down as desk; inside top with names of ships pasted on pigeon holes is now lost.


Thomas Sheraton noted in his “Cabinet Dictionary” (London, 1803) that the gentleman’s secretary was “intended for standing to write at.” Here, the front of the center drawer falls open to reveal a baize-covered writing surface, small drawers, and pigeonholes for documents. The two cupboards at the sides are fitted with vertical partitions for ledgers in one and with compartments for bottles in the other, as entertaining was a custom of business. The bookcase was lined with (now replaced) fabric to protect the books and ledgers from the sun. This secretary was owned by Clifford Crowninshield, a Salem merchant, and later by his son-in-law James Devereux, who inscribed the names of his ships on the pigeonholes. The eagle finial at the top is attributed to Salem carver Samuel McIntire.

Provenance

Said to have been made for Capt. Clifford Crowninshield of Salem, Massachusetts, who built a new house in Washington Square, Salem, in 1805. It was used by his son-in-law James Devereux, as shown by the shipnames inscribed in the pigeonholes, all of which can be traced to his ownership, and it descended to William C. Waters, with whose collection it was sold via dealer Israel Sack to the MFA, January 1926 (Accession Date: January 27, 1926)

Credit Line

Helen and Alice Colburn Fund