An Early George III Mahogany Secretaire Bookcase, Possibly From the Workshop of Thomas Chippendale
Height: 109" Width: 57" Depth: 22"
Inventory Number 8346-149
The swan’s neck pediment with dentillated cornice over two glazed doors with octagonal astragals opening to adjustable shelves; the projecting lower section fitted with a secretaire drawer flanked by a bank of short drawers to each side over a pair of doors opening to graduated drawers; on a molded plinth base.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by Colonial Williamsburg, 1956
ILLUSTRATED: The Williamsburg collection of Antique Furnishings, Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1973, Page 24.
This cabinet exhibits several characteristics that are typical of Thomas Chippendale’s designs and craftsmanship. In The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, he shows several designs for glazed doors with this type of astragal. Also, the moldings on the lower doors which are mounted roundels is typical of Chippendale’s designs. Also considered a Chippendale trait is the swan’s neck pediment. The construction also lends itself to the Chippendale workshop, as this secretaire is constructed of solid mahogany, utilizing matched flame veneers on solid mahogany panels. Finally, a truly identifying feature, linking this piece to Chippendale, is the highly unusual chamfered side edge of the sections. This would have been a detail unseen by his patrons, yet Chippendale took the time to chamfer his edges, thus ensuring less damage to the case itself. In addition to this chamfering, another fine detail often linked to Chippendale, is the concave quarter molding in the drawers.