1641
1641

IMPORTANT AMERICAN FURNITURE FROM THE COLLECTION OF W. FORBES AND JANE RAMSEY

VERY FINE AND RARE CHIPPENDALE CARVED AND FIGURED MAHOGANY BONNET-TOP DESK-AND-BOOKCASE, ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN TOWNSEND, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, CIRCA 1770
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 27,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
1641

IMPORTANT AMERICAN FURNITURE FROM THE COLLECTION OF W. FORBES AND JANE RAMSEY

VERY FINE AND RARE CHIPPENDALE CARVED AND FIGURED MAHOGANY BONNET-TOP DESK-AND-BOOKCASE, ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN TOWNSEND, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, CIRCA 1770
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 27,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

|
New York

VERY FINE AND RARE CHIPPENDALE CARVED AND FIGURED MAHOGANY BONNET-TOP DESK-AND-BOOKCASE, ATTRIBUTED TO JOHN TOWNSEND, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, CIRCA 1770
replaced prospect door and finial.
Height 90 in. by Width 40 in. by Depth 22 1/2 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

The Boardman Collection;
G.K.S.Bush, Inc., Washington, D.C.

Literature

G.K.S. Bush, Inc., advertisement, Magazine Antiques vol. 137, no. 6, June 1990, p. 1244.

Catalogue Note

Newport desk and bookcases with a flat front lower case represented here are extremely rare. This one exhibits exceptional workmanship, a refined design, supreme carving, high quality materials and broad proportions. Adding to its significance is its attribution to John Townsend (1733-1809), the acclaimed Newport cabinetmaker. This basis for this attribution rests in the similarities of its design and construction with that of a slant-front desk that descended in the Townsend family made by John Townsend for his daughter, Mary Townsend Brinley. That desk is currently in the collection of the Newport Restoration Foundation and illustrated in Morrison Heckscher, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, New York, 2005, no. 30, pp. 136-7.  It is virtually identical to the lower case of this one in its overall design, dimensions, interior, shell carving, profile of the ogee feet, and foot construction. The same interior is found on a block-front fall-front desk in the collection of the U.S. Department of State with Townsend’s label and dated 1765.1

Townsend’s flat-fronted case furniture consisted principally of desks like the present example with four graduated thumbnail-edged drawers, interiors of a standard Newport design, and ogee bracket feet. Typical of Townsend’s work, this desk displays a prospect door shell carved with consummate skill with flowing lobes and with his distinctive central C-scroll contained within an incised border. Heckscher notes that about a dozen other desks and one desk-and-bookcase survive of consistent design that can be linked to Townsend because of that distinctive attribute. Included among these is one initialed “IT” pictured in a Harry Arons advertisement in The Magazine Antiques (July 1968): 37 and a desk with a partial Townsend label sold in these rooms, Important Americana, January 20-23, 2005, sale 8053, lot 1193.  The desk-and-bookcase also with a closed bonnet descended from its original owner, Jonathan Nichols (1700-1774), and is currently in a private collection.2 A desk with a similar interior sold at Northeast Auctions, March 1-2, 2003, lot 470.

1 Heckscher, Morrison, John Townsend: Newport Cabinetmaker, New York, 2005, no. 17, p. 108.
2 Heckscher, no. 29, pp. 134-5.

Important Americana

|
New York