Secretary

Creator:
Goddard, John, 1723-1785 (attributed)
Published/Created:
Newport, Newport county, Rhode Island, United States
ca. 1765–1785
Physical Description:
113 x 42 1/2 x 25 in.
Materials:
Mahogany (primary); cherry, chestnut, white pine (secondary)
Notes:
YUAG catalogue description: Blockfront mahogany desk and bookcase with six carved shells, the blocking on the drawer fronts continuing through the concave and convex carved shells on the slant top of the desk, and on the doors of the bookcase; fluted quarter-columns and scrolled pediment with urn-shaped finials frame the façade, representing a pinnacle of American craftsmanship. By descent from Nicholas Brown of Providence, Rhode Island. The Browns were a founding family of Rhode Island, Nicholas Brown being an original signatory of the College of Rhode Island, later renamed Brown University for benefactor Nicholas Brown, Jr. This desk and bookcase descended directly in the family of Nicholas Brown, and was sold by a descendant in 1989 to raise money to preserve the Nightingale-Brown House on Benefit Street in Providence. The desk was purchased by Harold Sack for the Texas collector Robert Bass for the price of $12.1 million dollars, which remains the world record price for a piece of American furniture sold at auction. One of nine known examples, this blockfront desk and bookcase is associated with the Townsend-Goddard family of cabinetmakers in Newport, and is attributed to John Goddard; similar examples are in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (object 04.042) and the Yale University Art Gallery (object 1940.320). The desk exemplifies Townsend-Goddard superb craftsmanship in the delicate dovetailed construction of the drawers; their mastery of proportions is also evident in the piece’s well-balanced broken scroll pediment, alternating convex and concave surfaces and integrated flame finials.
Related objects: Website: http://risdmuseum.org/art_design/objects/685_desk_and_bookcase (accessed December 10, 2013). Website: http://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/desk-and-bookcase-0 (accessed December 10, 2013).
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Bibliography: Book: American Antiques from Israel Sack Collection, 10 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Highland House Publishers, 1957–1990), vol. 9, p. 2444, pl. P6197. Book: Albert Sack, The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), pp. 168–169. Book: Edward Wenham, The Collector's Guide to Furniture Design (New York: Collectors Press, 1928), p. 303, fig. 701. Book: Michael Moses, Master Craftsmen of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards (Tenafly, N.J.: MMI Americana Press, 1984), pp. 328–329, pl. 1, fig. 8.17, 8.17 a–c. Journal/Periodical: Rhode Island School of Design Bulletin 15, no. 2 (April 1927): p. 8, fig. 6. Journal/Periodical: Brock Jobe, "The Lisle Desk-and-Bookcase: A Rhode Island Icon," American Furniture (2001): p. 130, fig. 13–14. Auction catalogue: Christie's, New York, The Magnificent Nicholas Brown Desk and Bookcase, sale cat. (June 3, 1989), pp. 11–23, lot 100. Auction catalogue: Sotheby's, New York, Property of the Goddard Family, sale cat. (January 22, 2005), p. 29, 34, fig. 5. Website: http://rifa.art.yale.edu/detail.htm?id=107471&type=0 (accessed December 10, 2013).
Variant Titles:
Queen Anne mahogany secretary
Topics:
Decoration and ornament--Queen Anne style
Furniture--United States
Period/Style:
Queen Anne
Culture:
American
Accession Number:
6197
Genre:
desks and bookcases (AAT)
secretaries (furniture) (AAT)
Format:
Image
Physical Object
Content Type:
Furnishings & Decorative Arts
Prints & Photographs
Rights:
The use of this image may be subject to the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) or to site license or other rights management terms and conditions. The person using the image is liable for any infringement.
Access Restrictions:
Public
Source Title:
Israel Sack, Inc., Archive
Source Created:
New York, New York, United States
1957–1990
Source Note:
YUAG, 2013
This information is compiled from current scholarship in reference to materials in the Israel Sack Furniture Archive.
Folder:
Folder 10319 cab1dr3 tiff
Yale Collection:
Yale University Art Gallery
Digital Collection:
Israel Sack Furniture Archive
oid pointer:
10968364
OID:
11868331
PID:
digcoll:847295

Number of Pages: 5
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