Hepplewhite inlaid mahogany serpentine chest of drawers, Norfolk, Virginia or British Isles, mahogany primary with cedar, birch, and possible fir or spruce 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, brass escutcheons and round brass bail pulls. Top drawer divided into three sections. Straight skirt with central line inlay, over line-inlaid, straight bracket feet; rear feet horizontally laminated. 40" H x 47-3/8" W x 22-3/8" 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. 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 distinguished from each other by feet – inlaid on this chest, and plain on the chest referred to in the letter as "the Horne chest"). Lang attributes both chests to Norfolk, Virginia and writes "it is probable that these accomplished pieces came from the same cabinet shop." Note that microanalysis has not confirmed the woods on 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 in this instance, the presence or absence of certain woods makes geographic attribution based on woods alone very difficult. This chest surfaced in a Virginia auction but no further provenance information was known. Provenance: Private Southern Collection. CONDITION: Overall general use wear, some scratching to the top. Losses to inner front edge of top drawer.ÊCouple of minor veneer repairs to bottom drawer corner, skirt and feet. Repair to rear foot.
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