PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THOMAS P AND ALICE K KUGELMAN
circa 1765-1775, possibly 1767
circa 1765-1775, possibly 1767
Appears to retain its original finish, cast brass hardware and finials. This lot is accompanied with three historically related books. (4 pieces)
Purchased by Samuel Talcott Sr. (1711-1797), for his son Samuel Talcott Jr. (1740-1798) and his wife Abigail Ledyard (1751-1818) of Hartford, who married on December 24, 1767;
To their daughter, Anne Talcott (1772-1839);
To her nephew, Thomas G. Talcott (1819-1870), who married Sarah A. Jones;
To his half-brother, John L. Talcott (1812-1887);
To his son, John L. Talcott, Jr. (1876-1941);
To his daughter, Mildred T. Poindexter (1895-1989);
To her daughter, who sold it to the present owner in 1989.
Thomas P. Kugelman and Alice K. Kugelman with Robert Lionetti. Connecticut Valley Furniture: Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800, (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society Museum, 2005), catalog 144, pp. 314-7.
A masterpiece of Connecticut furniture, this magnificent desk and bookcase is one of the earliest blockfront pieces known from the Connecticut River Valley. It was likely commissioned by Samuel Talcott, Sr. (1711-1797), a member of the distinguished Talcott family of Connecticut and a prominent Hartford merchant and land owner, for his son, Samuel Talcott, Jr. (1740-1798), a 1757 graduate of Yale, on the occasion of his marriage to Abigail Ledyard (1751-1818) on December 24, 1767. At the death of Samuel Jr. in 1798, this desk was valued at $30 in his estate probate. It descended to his daughter, Anne Talcott (1772-1839), and appears listed in her 1839 inventory as a “Secretary” valued at $4. Her nephew, Thomas G. Talcott (1819-1870), inherited the desk next and at his death, it became the property of his wife, Sarah A. (Jones) Talcott. In 1886, Sarah split her husband’s property with his half-brother, John L. Talcott (1812-1887). Referenced as the “Gov. Talcott Secretary” on the distribution list, this desk became his property and subsequently descended through three generations of his family until 1989, when his great-granddaughter sold it to the current owner. It has survived in remarkable condition, retaining its original finish, corkscrew finials and hardware. A Connecticut corner chair with the same history of descent in the Talcott family is also offered in this sale.
Standing nearly eight feet tall, this architectonic desk is the work of an unidentified Hartford cabinetmaker adept at combining Boston high style design elements with Wethersfield style decoration and construction techniques. His Boston prototype was likely the flamboyant mahogany desk-and-bookcase at the Detroit Institute of Arts that was originally owned by Richard Alsop (1726-1776), the wealthy Middletown merchant (see Thomas Kugelman, Alice Kugelman, and Robert Lionetti, Connecticut Valley Furniture: Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800, Hartford, 2005, cat. 144D, p. 317). The desk closely follows the Alsop example in the bonnet, dentil molding, Corinthian capitals above fluted pilasters, blocked façade, interior layout, and claw-and-ball front feet. In keeping with the regional preference, it lacks the more elaborate details of the Alsop desk and displays a restrained Wethersfield style bonnet with a closed back, tombstone-paneled doors, simple raised shells on the interior drawers, and unembellished knees and feet.
Samuel Talcott Sr. also purchased a blockfront chest-on-chest and a blockfront bureau for his son from the same shop. The chest-on-chest, now in the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum, is possibly the mahogany bureau valued at $15 in Samuel Talcott Jr.’s estate inventory while the blockfront bureau is listed at $6. The latter was sold at Sotheby’s, Property of Rear Admiral Edward P. Moore and Barbara Bingham Moore, September 26, 2008, sale 8446, lot 11 for $182,500. Both pieces were included in Three Centuries of Connecticut Furniture held at the Morgan Memorial in Hartford in 1935 and illustrated in the accompanying catalog as nos. 224 and 247. The two case pieces descended along with this desk through the Talcott family until 1886, when Sarah A. Jones Talcott, inherited the chest-on-chest and bureau as part of the distribution of her husband’s estate. They remained in her family until they were sold in the 1960s.
This desk and the two blockfront chests are identified as the “Talcott Group” of Hartford by Thomas Kugelman, Alice Kugelmam, with Robert Lionetti in Connecticut Valley Furniture: Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800, Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society Museum, 2005, catalog 144, pp. 312-8. Kugelman, Kugelman, and Lionetti list the following significant index features for this desk-and-bookcase: a closed bonnet constructed like those in the Willard group of Wethersfield, with the exceptions of the upper courses of the pilaster columns and the square, capped side plinth (in the Boston manner); finials with a corkscrew-turned upper part and an urn-shaped lower part; an unembellished vase-shaped center plinth; a cornice with a dentil course that closes the pediment and wraps around the bookcase sides; tombstone-paneled rectangular bookcase doors with a scribed bead on three sides; fluted pilasters with elaborately carved Corinthian capitals; bookcase interior with valances over pigeonholes, fixed and movable shelves, and two rows of drawers; a desk interior with a central prospect flanked by split spindles on blind document drawers, a pair of pigeon holes, a tier of three drawers, and an unusual matching quarter spindle in each corner; a shell-carved prospect door concealing a compartment with a valance drawer, pigeon hole, and drawer; raised shells on the two outside drawers that are carved in relief; convex blocking of the desk façade that is squared at the corners; front of top drawer overlaps the loper muntins; backboards nailed in rabbets in the case sides and top; drawer dividers dovetailed to the case sides and covered with a facing strip; no giant dovetail in the base molding at the bottom board; dissimilar front and rear feet – claw feet with rounded knuckles and a flattened ball and ogee feet with an unusual recessed supporting pad; the inside face of drawer front conforms to the blocking as does the front edge of the drawer bottom; and drawer sides that are rounded on top with dovetail pins of average angle.
The Talcott chest-on-chest has many of the same design features, such as the bonnet, corkscrew finials, vase-shaped central plinth, blocked facade, front claw feet, rear ogee feet and brasses. The Talcott four drawer chest also has the same brasses and a blocked façade as well as two distinctive features associated with Boston design – no visible rail above the top drawer and a relatively long spur on the knee brackets. A cherrywood blockfront bureau in a private collection is likely by the same maker (see ibid, cat. 145, p. 318). It was possibly first owned by Ruth Belden (1747-1807) of Wethersfield and her husband John Stoughton (1735-1766) of East Windsor, who married on January 22, 1765. Samuel Talcott, Sr., her court-appointed guardian, may have commissioned this chest as her wedding gift.
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