High Chest of Drawers

American1730 - 1760

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

An obsession with the S-curve dominated American design by around 1725. With outwardly curved knees and inwardly turned ankles, graceful legs (called cabriole legs) became the hallmark of Late Baroque, or Queen Anne, furniture. Meanwhile, cabinetmakers grew increasingly inventive and ambitious in their designs.

This high chest of drawers is made mostly of pine rather than of a more expensive wood because it was intended to be japanned. An application of paint, gesso (a mixture of plaster and glue), and gold leaf, japanning is a decorative technique used to imitate Asian lacquer, a coveted but prohibitively expensive luxury. A superb example, this high chest represents a master craftsman’s orchestration of skilled specialists, including carvers, cabinetmakers, gilders, turners, and japanners.

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  • Title: High Chest of Drawers
  • Creator: American
  • Date Created: 1730 - 1760
  • Physical Dimensions: w105.4 x h221 x d58.4 cm (overall)
  • Type: Furniture
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Paint, gesso, gold leaf, eastern white pine, soft maple, brass; eastern white pine
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

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