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A Chippendale Mahogany Slant-Lid Desk with a Blocked Serpentine Front, Attributed to William King, Salem, MA, c. 1780

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This is an estimable serpentine desk with blocked ends on magnificent gadrooned feet.  Interestingly, the mahogany is blond and it gives warm amber tones of great depth.  Unlike many of these serpentine desks, which have very plain interiors, this desk has a beautifully carved prospect door, all of the solid.   The prospect door is flanked by document drawers which pull out and are sometimes considered hidden drawers, outside of which are large valanced pigeon holes ultimately flanked by four stacked drawers.    The condition is extremely fine, with no hinge breakouts or repairs. 

This substantial desk relates to a grouping of casepieces attributed to William King which share the distinctive characteristic of boldly gadrooned feet with a matching drop panel between.    A chest with virtually identical feet is at the Henry Ford Museum and is illustrated in the Edison Institute, American Chippendale Furniture 1775-90.  Further, another chest is at the Peabody Essex Institute in Salem and illustrated in Dean Fales’ Essex County Furniture: Documented Treasures from Local Collections, 1660-1860, fig. 25.  Of interest is a nearly identical desk illustrated in situ at The Lindens, the famous Washington Home of Mr. & Mrs. Geroge Morris, as the frontispiece of Antiques Magazine, November 1944 (see below) which later sold at the Lindens sale, Christie’s, January 1983, with a description attributing it to William King.  (The only difference between this desk and ours is that our desk has a more desirable tombstone prospect door.) 

Height: 43 1/2 in.  Depth: 25 in. Width: 42 1/4 in.
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