A highly important early Chippendale mahogany bureau table, attributed to the shop of Job Townsend Sr. Newport, Rhode Island, circa 1745-60.
This rare bureau table is among the earliest examples of this important Newport furniture form. These popular chests, came to define the pinnacle of superior Newport cabinet making. Introduced at the mid-eighteenth century, they were later developed into a more elaborate block and shell carved style. The primary example is in the Karolik collection and bears the label of cabinetmaker Edmund Townsend [1736-1810]. Hence, the majority of these desks carry his attribution. Edmund and his older brother Job Townsend Jr. [1726-1778] worked together in their father’s shop until Job Senior’s death in 1765. This prototypical, unblocked example, was created within that ten year period after Edmund completed his apprenticeship and worked with his older brother and father, but prior to his father’s passing. While the majority of Newport bureau tables are ascribed to the Townsend shop, it is logical to presume that this innovative new form was developed by one of these skilled craftsmen. One other example is known that possesses the identical form and construction materials. That example may predate this desk, in that, the brass hardware is placed in a less attractive position, below the keyhole surrounds. The successful positioning of the hardware, serving as both pull and lock escutcheon, is employed on all subsequent examples including this chest.
The chest is constructed of extremely high quality mahogany and has a rich color and bright surface. The rectangular top has molded edge that is matched by an inverted under-molding. This distinctive layout is a recognized Newport characteristic and lends an architectural sense to the piece, as well as eliminating the shadows created by an overhanging top. The chest has a single long top drawer above two banks of three graduated drawers. The central section or knee hole, has a locking paneled door that conceals four graduated concave blocked front drawers. Particularly dense mahogany with a deep color has been selected for the drawer and cabinet fronts. The cabinet and each drawer are locking and retain original Queen Anne hardware. The base of the chest has a molded perimeter the has the same profile as the upper molding. The molding joins six ogee bracket feet which have a customary Newport profile.
Dimensions: Height 33” Width 35 ½” Depth 20”