National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Block-front Desk Block-front Desk
Rendered by Harry Eisman (artist), c. 1937
watercolor, colored pencil, and graphite on paperboard
overall: 38.1 x 30.4 cm (15 x 11 15/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 80"high; 40"wide
Index of American Design
1943.8.5405
Not on View
From the Tour: Furniture from the Index of American Design
Object 17 of 26

Large, important case pieces were featured in eighteenth-century rooms. This imposing secretary is a typical form favored in the Chippendale period. Rather than having the common ball and claw foot, it stands upon boldly carved ogee feet, that is, a form combining both convex and concave curves. The vigor of the carving is continued in the block form of the base, which is composed of alternating recessed and projecting panels cut from solid wood. The sculptural quality of the piece is further emphasized by the undulating shapes of the interior compartments and drawers, by the carved panels of the upper doors, and by the molding that outlines the sweeping curves of the bonnet. Although West Indian mahogany was the predominant wood of the Chippendale period, cherry and maple were also used. Here, the cabinetmaker has taken full advantage of the rich, warm tones of native American cherry wood.

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