Charles II East Devon chest

Exeter, Devon

W 54.5" × H 26" × D 22.25"

Stock # Ex9


More information

This chest serves to introduce the second of three distinct later seventeenth-century joiners workshops in Exeter that represent the direct contemporaries of the Dennis Shop in Ipswich, Massachusetts. It and a joined chest with two drawers (Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. 3 (London: Antique Collectors Club, 2000), p. 15, fig. 30) represent a tradition furthest removed from the practices carried by Thomas Dennis to New England. This workshops most visible points of contact with the Dennis shop are the design elements its products share with the other two Exeter workshops (cats. 6-8, 13-16 and cats. 10-12). These include use of sequences of s-scrolls as the primary ornament applied to the surfaces of framing members, large single-panel sides, and poor quality local timber. Notably, this chest is carved with a distinctive variant of linked s-scroll that appears on several known joined chests produced by joiners from the third Exeter workshop. The pattern, consisting of a sequence of half s-scrolls which transition into pendent leaves, can be seen carved on the front top rail of cat. 10. Along with this form of s-scroll, the drawer fronts of the chest with two drawers are carved with the identical form of s-scroll that appears on joined furniture from the first Exeter workshop such as cats. 14-15. The chest also provides further evidence of the various strategies for initialing and/or dating joined case furniture employed by later seventeenth-century Exeter joiners. The joiners subtly integrated the initial into the foliage of the large s-scrolls carved on the central front panels, while the numbers 1-6-6-8 appear one at a time in the lower corners of the proper-right and centre panel. Despite the relatively limited direct links between this chest and the work of Thomas Dennis, its maker did employ one feature that is emphatically a Dennis shop practice. This is only the second example of an English joined chest yet discovered on which the edges of the outermost bottom boards are inserted in small grooves or ‘notches’ cut in the inner edges of the back stiles at the level of the lower back rail. Presented here, this chest helps to flesh-out a more complete picture of the community of Exeter woodworking artisans around the time of Thomas Dennis departure for New England. Condition Notes Hinges replaced; front bottom rail patched.