High chest of drawers

1739
Ebenezer Hartshorn (American, 1689–1781)


Object Place: Charlestown, Massachusetts

Catalogue Raisonné

Randall 54

Dimensions

228.6 x 105.41 x 54.61 cm (90 x 41 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

31.432

Medium or Technique

Walnut, satinwood and ebony inlay, white pine

On View

Amelia Peabody Gallery (Gallery 137)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Case furniture and boxes

This chest was considered an extremely important piece of American, late Baroque furniture from the 1930s until the 1960s, when close examination and x-rays revealed several alterations. The legs, finials, and brass hardware all have been replaced, and the gilding on the carved shells has been redone. However, the piece has fine proportions, elegant lines, spectacular swirling veneers, surprisingly intact stringing on the drawer fronts, attractively carved shells, intricate inlay, and most importantly, the date of its creation and the signature of its maker, on the back of the lower case. Replacements like those on this chest diminish its market value, yet in the Museum’s collection, it retains its importance as a documented and beautiful work of art.

Inscription

Inscribed on back of lower case, with the point of a compass, is a segmented circle with the name "E. Hartshern" below the date "1739"

Inscribed behind top center drawer inside the bonnet: "Rep. 1808"

On top of dustboard in lower case: "Oct 1812"

On back of top center drawer: "Springfield / Mass. / Rep. 1915. / by G. [?] C. Malinden / to Edg Mead's 1/10/1 / shop"

Inscribed behind top left drawer inside the bonnet: "Repaired 1915"

In graphite on case behind top left drawer: "Restored / M.F.A. 10-23-70 / Boston / Vin. Cerbone / RCM III."

Provenance

Early history unknown; probably owned in the Springfield, Massachusetts, area, about 1915; purchased by the Museum from Maurice Reuben, Colonial Antique Shop, Charles Street, Boston, in June 1931 for $2,750 (Accession Date June 9, 1931)

Credit Line

Julia Knight Fox Fund