PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JANET AND RICK SHERLUND, NANTUCKET, MA
This chest-on-chest is attributed to Benjamin Frothingham, Jr. (1734-1809) of Charlestown on the basis of a chest-on-chest displaying his label with a very similar overall configuration. That chest descended in the Fiske family of Weston, Massachusetts and is currently in a private collection.1 Both chests are of the same form with fluted pilasters, a blocked lower case, a related drawer configuration, and identical pilaster plinths. Many of the same parallels are displayed on a chest-on-chest with Frothingham’s signature that descended in the Cabot-Perkins family of Boston from either Samuel Cabot, Sr. (1758-1819) or Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1764-1854).2 A chest of drawers with Frothingham’s label exhibits closely related blocking, knee returns and bracket feet.3 A carved shell similar to the one articulated on the present chest is found on an oxbow-front chest-on-chest attributed to Frothingham illustrated as a “masterpiece” in Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture, New York, 1993, p. 122.
Born in 1734, Frothingham may have established his own business by 1753, the year he made the desk-and-bookcase with his signature in the collection of the U.S. Department of State.4 A member of the First Church of Charlestown and a founding member of The Ancient Fire Society, he served in the military during the war, attaining the rank of Major, and joined the Society of the Cincinnati. His workshop was destroyed during the War and likely rebuilt afterwards, since the years following the War appear to have been his most productive. Most of his surviving furniture, including this chest-on-chest, appears to date from this period.
1 See Richard Randall, “Benjamin Frothingham,” in Boston Furniture of the Eighteenth Century, 1974, fig. 1, p. vi.
2 Christie’s, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art, and Decorative Arts, January 16, 1999, sale 9054, lot 702.
3 See Randall, no. 170, p. 244.
4 See Clement Conger and Alexandra Rollins, Treasures of State, New York, 1991, no. 13, pp. 94-5.
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