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Maker(s):DeWolf, Jr., Elisha (attributed)
Culture:American (1772-1855)
Title:chest-on-chest-on-frame
Date Made:1799
Type:Furniture
Materials:wood: cherry, white pine; base metal: brass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Ashfield
Measurements:overall: 85 in x 40 in x 22 in; 215.9 cm x 101.6 cm x 55.88 cm
Narrative Inscription:  in black crayon on the side of the center top drawer: "L D A/allis [illegible]/E W [illegible]/Conway.” with other black crayon incriptions around sides and back of drawer
Accession Number:  HD 62.146
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield
1962-146T.jpg

Description:
This serpentine bonnet-top chest-on-chest-on-frame is attributed to Elisha DeWolf, Jr. (1772-1855) and inscribed for Lucy DeWolf Allis of Conway. Elisha DeWolf, Jr. was a house joiner whose sister Lucy (1774-1849) married John Belding Allis (ca. 1773-1861) of Ashfield in 1800 and settled in Conway. A similar chest-on-chest with an elaborate double pediment was apparently made by the same hand for Simon DeWolf (1776-1863), the younger brother of Elisha and Lucy, when he married Lydia Batchelder (1776-1847) in 1803. Significantly, perhaps, John Belding Allis' younger brother, Henry, was also a joiner. Elisha married Eunice Allis (1778-1864), the younger sister of John Belding Allis; they lived in Conway, Ashfield and later Deerfield. The use of furniture made in New York during the last quarter of the eighteenth century was fashionable in the Connecticut River Valley, where this cabinetmaker reoriented the concept of a gadrooned base molding to serve as a mid-molding between the two cases as opposed to using base molding, the contemporary urban practice. The profile of the feet and the use of gadrooned moldings are similar to the furniture designs used by Daniel Clay (1770-1848) of Greenfield, Massachusetts. During most of the eighteenth century, cabinetmakers in the Valley towns provided well-made and generally well-designed furnture for porspering farmers and merchants. By 1800, a split had developed between market towns and agricultural towns, and cabinetmaking became increasingly centralized and competitive witin commercial centers. The joiners who worked outside of these market towns continued to make building, farming implements, and furniture instep with the agricultural year. They became less less motivated to perfect their cabetmaking skills, or any other speciality, because their customers had been drawn elsewhere for attractive furniture. This three-part chest-on-chest was solidly built of fine, slow-growth cherry; the lumber is thick and the joints are over-constructed. The backboards of the case almost rest on the floor. The drawer bottoms are made in the same way as those in joined Hadley-type chests. The bottoms are composed of two boards, one much narrower than the other, which are rabbeted together. This practice produced a solid bottom despite the shrinking of the lumber. The chest was originally mahoganized; the two end finials and brasses are not original. Proper right top drawer runner is white pine, top center drawer front is cherry.

Label Text:
Chests-on-chests gained in popularity after 1750. Ashfield carpenter-joiner Elisha DeWolf Jr. (1772-1855) probably made this example for his sister, Lucy De Wolf (1774-1849) when she married John Belding Allis (ca. 1773-1861) in 1799. His design incorporates an exaggerated broken-scroll pediment that encloses full-circle occuli; an elongated, reeded center plinth; pine tree finials, gadrooning on the waist moldings and ogee bracket feet.

Born in Deerfield, Elisha De Wolf, Jr. trained as a joiner-house carpenter. In 1798, after completing his apprenticeship, he married Eunice Allis (1778-1864). Two years later, in 1801, he bought land in Ashfield from her sister’s husband, John Belding Allis, and established a farm where he also practiced carpentry and cabinetmaking.

Link to share this object record:
https://museums.fivecolleges.edu/detail.php?t=objects&type=ext&id_number=HD+62.146

Research on objects in the collections, including provenance, is ongoing and may be incomplete. If you have additional information or would like to learn more about a particular object, please email fc-museums-web@fivecolleges.edu.

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1962-146T.jpg
1962-146T.jpg
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
1962-146T.jpg
© Historic Deerfield, photo by Penny Leveritt
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