Chippendale Cherry Serpentine Tall Chest, Colchester, CT

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Chippendale cherry serpentine front tall chest featuring five graduated drawers and a base with ogee bracket feet ending in large scrolled returns. Colchester, Connecticut, 1790 – 1810.

Cherry with butternut, tulip poplar and eastern white pine secondary wood.

Why do we love it?  Being based in Colchester, it is always a special treat to find an exceptional piece made right here at home. This unusual Chippendale cherry tall chest features design and construction supporting an attribution to Colchester, Connecticut and a date between 1790 and 1810.  Among the most notable features supporting the connection to Colchester are the distinctive oversized round scrolled returns.  This element has been dubbed “The Colchester Curl” and is illustrated and discussed in detail in “Connecticut Valley Furniture” by Kugelman, Kugelman and Lionetti, Catalog 105D, page 237.  The illustrated ogee foot with the scrolled return is found on a Chippendale chest on chest attributed to the noted Colchester cabinetmaker, Samuel Loomis III (1748-1814).   Interestingly, the Chippendale serpentine front tall chest described above features some elements associated with Samuel Loomis’ work but not others.  A list of “Significant Index Features” found in Loomis’ work is found on page 231 and additional elements found in the tall chest include:  the mix of secondary woods, such as chestnut, tulip poplar and eastern white pine; backboards housed in grooves in the case sides; and drawer runners nailed to the case sides.  Some Loomis Index Features not found on the tall chest described above include:  ogee feet joined with exposed dovetails visible from the sides; and drawer sides constructed with double astragal shaped top edges and reversed rear dovetails, showing the triangular dovetail pins from the back.   While the Chippendale serpentine front tall chest lacks some of these Samuel Loomis Index Features, it does show several distinctive elements associated with another group of Colchester furniture identified as the Lord Group.

The Lord Group is illustrated and discussed by Kugelman, Kugelman and Lionetti, pages 210 through 229.  The Chippendale cherry serpentine front tall chest shows several important Lord Group Index Features, which are listed on page 211.  Among the most notable is the use of a triangular supporting block joined to the ogee bracket feet and nailed to the underside of the case bottom.  An example of this technique is illustrated in Catalog 98C, page 221.  In addition to the distinctive triangular block, the shape of the rear bracket and the technique of joining it to the case bottom with a single nail driven through an extended and cut section.  This unusual foot construction is found on the Chippendale cherry bonnet top secretary illustrated in Catalogue 98, page 220.  Now in the collection of the Webb-Deane-Stevens House in Wethersfield, Connecticut and “displays all the basic index characteristics of the Lord group.”  The furniture in the Lord Group is named for, Epaphras Lord II (1709-1799), the likely owner of the Chippendale bonnet top highboy shown in Catalogue 94.  The master of the Lord Group is unknown, but it has been suggested that Samuel Loomis III may have trained under this highly skilled cabinetmaker.  The combination of a wide variety of elements from both the Samuel Loomis and the Lord Group suggests the maker was well versed in both techniques and combined them in this unusual Chippendale cherry serpentine front tall chest.