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Maker(s):Gould, Nathaniel, attributed to
Culture:American (1734-1782)
Title:Desk and Bookcase
Date Made:ca. 1780
Materials:mahogany, eastern white pine, eastern redcedar, western fir
Place Made:North America; United States; Massachusetts; Salem
Measurements:Overall: 96 in x 43 5/8 in x 24 in; 243.84 cm x 110.8075 cm x 60.96 cm
Narrative Inscription:  NANCY SUMMER | BALT I | MORE | 180[0 or 9]
Accession Number:  AC 1945.433.a,b
Credit Line:Bequest of Herbert L. Pratt (Class of 1895)

Chippendale style mahogany slant-front secretary bookcase, upper portion of block-front secretary with three panels in desk and two doors on bookcase; three vase and baluster finials and batwing brasses; lower portion; blockfront with four long drawers with batwing brass pulls

Label Text:
This impressive desk-and-bookcase features blockfront drawers, exuberantly carved scallops and shells, elongated knee brackets, and elegant stepped drawers, characteristics that have secured its attribution to the renowned Salem, Massachusetts–based workshop of Nathaniel Gould. While aspiring painters in colonial America and the Early Republic typically struggled for patronage, artisans like Gould flourished by producing and selling their wares, mostly to merchants of means. Luxurious possessions like this desk-and-bookcase functioned as utilitarian objects and as cultural and economic signifiers of success, which some saw as evidence of God’s favor. While the overall condition of this piece is excellent, certain elements appear to have changed, such as the base, which may have originally culminated in ball-and-claw feet. In December 2009, the desk-and-bookcase received new, historically accurate flame finials to replace inappropriate knob finials that were inconsistent with Gould’s known preferences.

RRG 2009

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