Inlaid serpentine chest of drawers, Norfolk, Virginia or British Isles, mahogany primary with pine, birch, ash and spruce (ash and spruce confirmed by microanalysis) secondary woods. Serpentine-front flamed mahogany overhanging top, having chamfered concave corners, over a conforming case with contrasting four-sided flower and intertwined vine inlay to corners; four graduated dovetailed drawers with cock-beaded edges and rectangular string inlay, full dustboards. Top drawer divided into three sections. Straight skirt with line inlay at top, over straight plain bracket feet; rear feet horizontally laminated. Brass escutcheons, locks and round brass bail pulls. 41-1/2" H x 47-1/4" W x 22-7/8" D at center. Circa 1800. Note: this is one of two remarkably similar chests in this auction from the same collection (but acquired separately, from different sources), both of which follow a form that originated in the British Isles but also appears in the area around Norfolk, Virginia. It is accompanied by a 2004 copy of letter written by furniture conservator James L. Horne of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, attributing this chest (which was at that time owned by Nashville dealer Jim Williams) to Norfolk, Virginia. This assertion is made based on the form and construction techniques including horizontal blocking or lamination of the feet, the grain of the runners which runs parallel to the dust boards and sides of the chest, and the presence of woods including red and yellow pine (based on Horne's visual identification). However, we have not confirmed the presence of yellow pine in this chest. As a port city, Norfolk furniture makers (many of whom were British immigrants) had access to a wide variety of hard and soft woods being imported and exported through the city, and the presence or absence of certain woods makes geographic attribution based on woods alone very difficult. This chest is also accompanied by a letter written in 2015 by Christopher Lang, conservator and cabinetmaker, formerly of Colonial Williamsburg, comparing this chest with the other chest (most easily distinguinshed from each other by the plain feet on this chest – referred to in the letter as "the Horne chest" versus the inlaid feet on the second chest). Lang attributes both chests to Norfolk, Virginia and writes "it is probable that these accomplished pieces came from the same cabinet shop." This chest surfaced in a Nashville estate and was purchased by dealer Jim Williams, but no additional provenance information is known. Provenance: Private Southern collection. CONDITION: Overall very good condition with general use wear, some light stains to the top and surface scratching to front. Some small veneer patches to skirt. Chubb, English-stamped brass locks appear later than the chest.
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