Overall: 235 x 108.6 x 62.3 cm (92 1/2 x 42 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.)
Gift of Moselle Taylor Meals 1976.170
Block-fronted case furniture-that is, pieces with façades that vary in the plane of their relief by extending forward at the sides and receding in the center-decorated with carved shell ornaments, has long been among the most admired of 18th-century American furniture. The sophisticated examples of such pieces were presumed to have been made in Newport, Rhode Island, particularly by members of the Townsend and Goddard families. However, recent scholarship convincingly hypothesizes that some of the finest pieces of this type of furniture were, in fact, made in Providence, Rhode Island-many of them, such as this chest, for members of the Brown family, inhabitants of that city. This piece was probably made for either Nicholas Brown (1729-1791) or, more likely, his son Nicholas Brown Jr. (1769-1841). The museum's chest-on-chest can be related stylistically and technically to other Providence pieces, but it is not yet clear who made them. Members of two cabinetmaking families, the Carliles and the Rawsons, are among the most likely candidates.
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