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 with the William and Mary style, the high chest of drawers was a prestigious addition to the early-eighteenth-century home. The scalloped skirt, curved stretchers, and six turned legs on this chest 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—a technique created by the new craft of cabinetmaking. Dramatic surface decoration, accomplished here by bordering the richly figured walnut-veneered drawer fronts with a herringbone pattern, is characteristic of furniture dating from the 1690s to the 1730s.