A Highly Important American Chippendale Carved Maple and Tiger Maple Chest mid-to-late 18th century attributed to John Cogswell, (w. 1769-1789) Salem or Boston, Massachusetts.
The reverse serpentine front top with molded edge over a conforming case with four graduated drawers with cockbeaded stiles; the skirt centered with a pendant fan, on bracketed ball and claw feet; in nearly pristine original state, attractive color.
Height 35 in., Width 41 1/2 in., Depth 22 1/2 in.
Virtually every element of the framing on the present chest is closely analogous with examples from master cabinetmaker John Cogswell (1738-1818) of Boston. Ada Young in 1965 published three secretaries with reliable attributions to Cogswell (on the basis of a cognate secretary bearing his name and the date 1799), all three of which have desk components sharing every characteristic with this chest: all are of tiger maple, and all have similar serpentine fronts, base moldings, scroll brackets, and ball-and-claw feet.
The first of those parallel desks (Young's fig. 2), from the collection of Frances P. Garvan, now in the collection of the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, is dated 'June 5, 1799 ' and is inscribed as 'Owned by Jedediah Tucker of Loudon N. H. until April 28, 1818'; its shell-carved pendant is identical to that on this chest, as are its simple bail handles.
The second cognate secretary (Young's fig. 3), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is twice inscribed '1794'; the scallop-shell on its pendant has the flutes pointing downward, and its bail handles have bat-wing backplates.
The third of these parallels, which in 1965 was in the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Philip Walker (Young's fig. 4), is uninscribed, like this piece; its down-pointing shell pendant is identical with that on the the chest conserved by the Metropolitan Museum, but its simple bail handles exactly replicate those on this chest.
Reference: M. Ada Young, 'Five Secretaries and the Cogswells,' The Magazine Antiques, vol. 88, no. 4 (October 1965), pp. 476-484.