Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Desk and bookcase

Workshop of Nathaniel Gould (1734–1782)
ca. 1779
Made in Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Mahogany and white pine
105 x 45 x 24 in. (266.7 x 114.3 x 61 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, 1909
Accession Number:
10.125.81a, d
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 719
This tall and stately secretary, fashioned of the finest figured mahogany, is a masterpiece from the shop of Nathaniel Gould, the leading cabinetmaker of Salem, Massachusetts, in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. When Gould died in 1781, he was listed as a gentleman, having presumably given up working with his hands. On an inside surface, the desk and bookcase bear the enigmatic inscription: "Nath Gould not his work." Presumably a master joiner in his shop wrote these words so that posterity would not credit Gould himself with actually having crafted the piece.
Inscription: incised: Nath Gould not his work; Joseph Gould / 1779[?] [in crude script]; inscribed in chalk on right hand drawer: Mrs T G pound R; on other drawers: [various 19th-century inscriptions]
descended in the Putnam family, Newburyport, Massachusetts, until 1897; H. Eugene Bolles, Boston, 1897–1909; [Mrs. Russell Sage, New York, 1909]
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