This lidded chest represents a type of carved trunk that artisans working throughout the Connecticut River Valley produced in some quantity for prosperous clients in the early colonial era. A profusion of exuberant natural (and sometimes religious) motifs, shallowly carved or incised across the front and both ends distinguishes its style. The dynamic contrast between red and black tones on the Mead’s chest further animates its surface, while the initials “S. F.” in the front center panel likely refer to the individual, possibly a new bride, for whom the chest was made.
Dismissed throughout the nineteenth century as embarrassingly unsophisticated, such examples of untu tored, or “folk,” art and craft gained esteem in the early twentieth century for their seemingly directness of expression and abstract decoration.