In eighteenth-century Newport, a thriving seaport ninety miles south of Boston, local cabinetmakers produced some of the most creative and uniquely American of all colonial furniture. One of their innovations was the introduction of carved, lobed shells to terminate the projecting or receding blocking on the fronts of chests and desks. On this example, a bureau table or kneehole chest, there are four shells in the distinctively elegant and crisp style of the master craftsman John Townsend.
Inscription: [in pencil, on bottom of large drawer]: Bottom [in chalk, on upper right drawer]: Mad by/ — [illegible?]/Mahongany [in graphite, on rails below small drawers, beginning at upper left]: A, B, C, D, E
Pascal Allen, Warren, Rhode Island; his grandson Pascal Allen Horton, Stratham, New Hampshire, until 1907; [F. C. Higgins, Exeter, New Hampshire, 1907]; H. Eugene Bolles, Boston, 1907–9; purchased from him by Mrs. Russell Sage in 1909 for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.