An important Chippendale maple antique high chest of drawers, Hingham, Massachusetts, circa 1790-1800. Attributed to cabinetmaker Elisha Cushing, Jr.
This distinctive antique Queen Anne maple high chest (or highboy) belongs to a group of related furniture that has recently been attributed to Hingham, Massachusetts cabinetmaker Elisha Cushing Jr. (1746-1829). Although these pieces exhibit some characteristics associated with furniture produced in New London County, Connecticut, they have solid histories in the Hingham, Massachusetts area. Another antique Queen Anne high chest in a private collection, is almost identical to this piece. It is signed by an early owner who identifies himself and his locale “C.W. Prouty, Scituate”. These Hingham area discoveries were initially made during research for the award winning book, “Harbor & Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts 1710-1850” by Brock Jobe, Gary R. Sullivan and Jack O’Brien. The Elisha Cushing Jr. attribution was discovered after the book had gone to press, so it was presented and discussed in detail in an article in the May, 2009 issue of Magazine Antiques. It was entitled “Furniture making in Massachusetts: Two Plymouth Discoveries”, by Gary R. Sullivan and Brock Jobe. [Click link to read article]
The antique high chest has a warm cherry color with a pleasing surface. It features a molded and steeply arched pediment terminating in carved disk-form rosettes. The use of a curving backboard that conforms to the shape of the pediment, but is not fitted with the expected bonnet top roof boards, is most unusual. This distinctive treatment is one of the hallmarks of this cabinetmaker. The pediment frames a central plinth mounted with a carved flame-twist, urn-form finials. The outer corners of the pediment have fluted chimney blocks mounted with matching finials. The front corners of the case are mounted with stop fluted pilasters. An applied molding interrupts the pilaster at the top and bottom creating the effect of capitals and bases. The upper chest consists of three short drawers above four graduated long drawers. The row of short drawers has two canted outer drawers flanking a large central drawer with an attractive radiant fan carving. The upper case transitions to the base with a conforming stepped molding. The base section has one long drawer above three short rectangular drawers. The large central drawer in the base has a matching radiant fan carving. The drawers are mounted with Chippendale style brass pulls and escutcheons. The base has a stepped and notched apron with large acorn drops joining tall Queen Anne cabriole legs with pad feet raised on buttons.
Dimensions: Height including center finial: 89 1/4”; Width 42 3/4”; Depth 21”