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A Mid-sized Figured Walnut Hepplewhite Commode or Chest with Serpentine Front, and original brasses, Pennsylvania, c.1790/1810, Provenance: Joseph Kindig, Jr.

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This compelling bureau has the advantages of (1) being 37 inches wide—which is on the smaller side—and (2) being composed of walnut—which is far less common than mahogany.  It is quite tall, and with its highly figured serpentine front, makes a most elegant statement, and could almost be used to serve as a commode.  All of this is raised on high French feet in perfect condition with no breaks.   The walnut is solid and the drawer fronts are of a highly figured thick veneer of burled walnut, which is needed for stability.  All of the drawer borders are line inlaid and retain original escutcheon inlay, probably all satinwood.  The top and sides, which are solid, were beautifully selected for figure (see the top image below, which shows a beautifully clamshell-figured piece of walnut, 20 inches wide.)   Walnut doesn’t come in wide widths and large pieces are hard to come by, as opposed to maple and mahogany.   This cabinetmaker, therefore, added a strip to the back on top and both sides to provide the depth required.  It is of the same stock.

Structurally, this piece is in perfect condition, including its original brasses.  We have French polished it and it has a very fine appearance.  It was handled by Joseph Kindig, who, years ago, was the top dealer in colonial furniture nationally.   Many things, like this chest, came to him from Pennsylvania through family connections and local auctions as they occured.

A similar chest is illustrated in Arts of the Federal Period: 1785-1825, Brian Cullity, cat. # 108.

Height: 38 in. Width: 37 in. (overall) Depth: 22 in.
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