Bookcase cabinet

about 1880–90
Manufactured by J. J. McNutt Novelty Wood Works (active 1860–1890), John J. McNutt (American (born in Nova Scotia), 1822–1894)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

224.8 x 120.7 x 62.2 cm (88 1/2 x 47 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

1987.563a-b

Medium or Technique

Oak, yellow poplar, burl walnut veneer

On View

Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Case furniture and boxes

Large oak cabinet in two sections: lower section has two drawers and hinged doors with panels ornamented with carved “Japanese” fish and with shelves behind, and console pilasters, and carved dog’s heads; upper case features glazed doors with Gothic tracery which open to reveal shelves behind; dentil cornice molding; upper case flanked by twist-turned columns surmounted by carved portrait busts (possibly of the owner, Henry Wenz).


This imposing cabinet echoes the grandeur of American Renaissance interiors. A handsome cornice with egg-and-dart molding tops a case ornamented with boldly carved heads, twisted columns, lion masks, and dolphins—all drawn from Renaissance and Baroque sources. McNutt was a carpenter, house builder, and entrepreneur, who, according to Boston Today in 1892, “played an important part in the construction of superior dwellings, business houses, churches, theatres, etc., in Boston and vicinity … for nearly fifty years.”

Signed

Paper label: "NOVELTY WOOD WORKS / J.J. McNUTT / Builder and Manufacturer of / Mouldings, Counters, Bank and Store Fixtures /Malden & Wareham Sts. Boston"

Provenance

Built for the office of Henry Wenz, a Viennese-trained chemist who came to Boston and established a chocolate business in the nineteenth century; purchased in 1987 from Paul Weiner, Weiner's Antiques, 22 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

Credit Line

Gift of The Seminarians