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Chest over Drawers

1783
Artist/maker unknown, American, Pennsylvania German

Though many chests made in the Germanic communities of Pennsylvania are tulip poplar with painted decoration, this one is made of the local hardwood walnut and decorated with lightwood inlay and marquetry in various intricate patterns. The form of the chest over drawers sets up the spaces for decoration—a long rectangular front, lid, and two square ends. The organic shapes and shadows formed in the decoration belie the strength of the walnut.

The asters and oversized tulips brimming from the vase, shells, husks, and particularly the grasshoppers are hallmarks of the work of an unknown specialist inlay and marquetry artisan working around Berks County, Pennsylvania, in the 1780s. Their work can be found on a small handful of walnut furniture. And while the artisan remains anonymous, the exuberant decoration is closely related to that on furniture made in Germany in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

The museum purchased this chest in 1914 from the direct descendants of Maria Kutz.

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Object Details

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