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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Culture:American
Title:table/desk
Date Made:1690s
Type:Furniture
Materials:wood: sugar maple, white pine, yellow pine (Pitch pine); base metal: iron
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Springfield
Measurements:overall: h: 39 1/2 in. w: 42 1/2 in. d: 28 1/2 in.
Accession Number:  HD 2016.16
Credit Line:Museum Purchase with partial funds given in memory of Lawrence L. Wagenseil
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Description:
Unique table/desk probably made in the Springfield area, owned by Reverend Nehemiah Bull (1701-1740). Bull was likely the second owner of the table/desk. Primary woods are Southern yellow pine and sugar maple, with white pine and maple as secondary woods. The pulls are original. The table/desk is clearly a special commission designed to store separate files of papers. It was likely made in Springfield about 1700 or somewhat earlier. The turning style of the legs and the brackets are related to other objects in this time frame with Springfield associations. Historic Deerfield will soon install this table/desk in the Ashley House, as not only were Jonathan Ashley and Nehemiah Bull contemporaries, but the Reverend Jonathan Ashley himself was born in Westfield in 1712. But how do we know that the object was owned by the Reverend Nehemiah Bull? Conveniently...he signed it on the bottom of two drawers! The signature compares very favorably with Bull's signature in his account book.
Bull was born in 1701 and was ordained in Westfield in 1726. The desk's construction and design features easily put it at 1700 if not earlier. We also know that Bull was the much younger ministerial colleague of the Reverend Edward Taylor of Westfield, who was born in England in the 1640s, came to Westfield in the early 1670s, groomed Bull as his successor in the Westfield pulpit after 1726, and like John Williams died in 1729. Taylor was a renowned clergyman in his day but is also remembered for his nationally important poetry and journals, which all had to be stored somewhere—like in this table/desk. It is conceivable that this table/desk could have originally been owned by Taylor, as very few people in Bull's realm would have commissioned a special design of this sort. This cannot, however, be proven.

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