High chest of drawers

Date: 1700–1730

Geography: Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Black walnut, maple, poplar, hickory, white pine

Dimensions: 62 1/2 x 39 1/4 x 21 3/4 in. (158.8 x 99.7 x 55.2 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Screven Lorillard, 1952

Accession Number: 52.195.2a, b


A new form introduced in the 1690s, the early Baroque high chest of drawers was a stylish addition to the colonial home. High chests were used for the storage of textiles and clothing, and were often made en suite with a matching dressing table. On this example, the scalloped skirt, curved stretchers, and six turned legs bring lightness and movement to the form. The large, smooth surfaces of the drawer fronts of the upper and lower cases were achieved by abandoning the panel-and-frame tradition in favor of dovetailed-board construction. Above the turned legs, thin veneers of figured maple create a facade that is unified and visually compelling.