Dower chest

Christian Seltzerc. 1784

Reading Public Museum

Reading Public Museum
Reading, United States

The son of German immigrants, Christian Seltzer is considered to be the founder of the “Jonestown School” of chest makers. His decorative style was distinct yet variable. Many chest painters of this period used templates or repetitive designs, but his motifs rarely repeat, and he typically rendered vases and flowers freehand. The mottled background painting is a treatment suggestive of highly figured wood-graining and serves as a particularly effective ground to give emphasis to the arcaded panels surrounding the urn and stylized spiky floral motifs. The deep claret reddish-brown hue seen in the painted ornament on this chest was especially favored by the elder Seltzer.


  • Title: Dower chest
  • Creator: Christian Seltzer
  • Date Created: c. 1784
  • Physical Dimensions: 22.75"h x 51.5"w x 22.5"d
  • Type: object
  • Medium: pine, tulip poplar, ironwork and paint
  • Culture: American
  • Credit Line: Museum Purchase
  • Creator Death Date: 1831
  • Creator Birth Date: 1749

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