Desk and Bookcase (bookcase)

Desk and Bookcase (bookcase)

c. 1780

Part of a set. See all set records

Mahogany and pine, brass hardware, gilding

Overall: 241.9 x 106 x 56.5 cm (95 1/4 x 41 3/4 x 22 1/4 in.)

Bequest of Mrs. Lawrence Hitchcock 1990.96.b



During the 18th century, desks and bookcases were among the largest and most expensive pieces of furniture in a household. Their owners were chiefly businessmen and community leaders, and they were usually placed downstairs in a back parlor or hall. These ensembles consisted of two parts: a lower division-usually a slant-top desk-and an upper cabinet that sat within moldings applied to the desktop. The form of the upper cabinet often included elements derived from contemporary architecture. Like much New England furniture of the later 1700s, the lower section of this example is block-fronted, that is, it recedes in the center and protrudes at either side. Though some European precedents can be found for block fronting, it was clearly more popular on this side of the Atlantic.

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