Bureau table

Maker: Attributed to John Townsend (1732–1809)

Date: ca. 1765

Geography: Made in Newport, Rhode Island, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Mahogany, chestnut, tulip poplar

Dimensions: 34 3/8 x 36 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. (87.3 x 92.7 x 52.1 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909

Accession Number: 10.125.83


In eighteenth-century Newport, a thriving seaport ninety miles south of Boston, local cabinetmakers produced some of the most creative and uniquely American of all colonial furniture. One of their innovations was the introduction of carved, lobed shells to terminate the projecting or receding blocking on the fronts of chests and desks. On this example, a bureau table or kneehole chest, there are four shells in the distinctively elegant and crisp style of the master craftsman John Townsend.