Desk and bookcase

Date: 1760–90

Geography: Made in Newport, Rhode Island, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Mahogany, chestnut, white pine, yellow pine,
tulip poplar, cedar

Dimensions: 99 1/8 x 44 1/8 x 25 3/4 in. (251.8 x 112.1 x 65.4 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1915

Accession Number: 15.21.2


The most famous pieces of furniture made by the leading cabinetmaking families of Newport, the Townsends and the Goddards, are the desks and bookcases with block fronts and six or nine shells. On these, the tripartite division of the blocked drawer fronts, terminating in large shells on the fall front, is continued upward on the bookcase unit in three hinged doors covering an array of cubbyholes. These monumental work stations were also symbols of their owners' business achievements. Thus, for example, each of the four Brown brothers, the leading merchants in late-eighteenth-century Providence, Rhode Island, had one.