Thomas Townsend (American, 1742–1827)
Newport, Rhode Island
Mahogany, chestnut, tulip poplar; H. 86 3/4 in. (220.3 cm)
Purchase, Friends of the American Wing Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Goelet Gift, Sansbury–Mills Fund, and Leigh Keno and The Hohmann Foundation Gifts, 2005 (2005.52)
To its unsurpassed collection of furniture by members of the Townsend and Goddard dynasty of cabinetmakers in colonial Newport, the Museum has recently added a chest-on-chest that has everything in the way of quality, condition, authenticity, and provenance that a collector could desire. The design, with flanking fluted quarter columns and a scroll pediment top enclosing paired circular blind openings, is characteristic of the best Newport work. The craftsmanship is refined, the proportions particularly pleasing, and the conditions wonderfully "untouched"; the wood's deep purple hue shines through surface oxidations and accumulations of two centuries. The chest, which descended in the Gardiner family of Long Island, bears the paper label of its maker, Thomas Townsend, the name Nicholas Easton (presumably that of its first owner), and the date 1772. The chest is as yet the only documented work by this enigmatic craftsman.