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Art & Design

John Goddard, Desk and Bookcase, 1760-1785, Bequest of Mr. Charles L. Pendleton

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John Goddard

Desk and Bookcase

Attributed to John Goddard, cabinetmaker
American, 1723-1785
Desk and Bookcase
Mahogany, cedar, tulipwood, pine and chestnut
256.5 x 106.7 x 61 cm (101 x 42 x 24 inches)
Bequest of Mr. Charles L. Pendleton 04.042

This lustrous mahogany desk and bookcase represents a pinnacle of achievement for American cabinetmakers. One of nine known examples, this block-front desk and book-case with six carved shells is associated with the Goddard/Townsend family of cabinetmakers in Newport. The desk exemplifies their superb craftsmanship in the delicate dovetailed construction of the drawers. Their mastery of proportions is evident in the piece’s well-balanced broken-scroll pediment, alternating convex and concave surfaces, and integrated flame finials. In a Rhode Island house of the period, the desk and bookcase was the most expensive piece of case furniture. A combination office, safe, and library, it offered space for account books and writing materials, a flat surface for writing, and small lockable drawers for securing money or jewelry

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