Chest of drawers, ca. 1747
Maple, white pine; 70 1/4 x 39 5/8 x 21 in. (178.4 x 100.6 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909 (10.125.58)
Japanning is the Western imitation of Asian lacquerwork through the use of paint. On this high chest, the tortoiseshell background was created by streaking lampblack over a vermillion ground. The raised figures and landscapes were built up with gesso (a chalklike substance) and gilded. Few pieces of eighteenth-century American japanned furniture have survived with their surface intact.