Bureau table, Daniel Goddard
The antiquarian Wallace Nutting referred to the Newport kneehole dressing tables as “the supreme pieces of American cabinet work.” They are compact yet possess dynamic massing in the blocking, an architectonic feel with the blocked base and the cornice molding under the top, deeply modeled shells, and richly figured imported mahogany. Bureau tables, the period term for the form used in the bed chamber for dressing, tended to be owned by merchants, magistrates, and professionals. About sixty examples made in Newport in the second half of the eighteenth century have survived; approximately half have fielded panel doors in the recessed area and about half have concave blocking and carved shells, as found on this example. Rather than simply rely on the volume of the form, this bureau table contains additional decorative features such as the latticework background carved into the upper drawer, the gadrooning along the upper edge of the base, and the leaf carving along the inside edge of the bracket feet. Along the back of the full width drawer is written in chalk “Daniel Goddard His Draugh.” Goddard, whose father John and brothers Job and Henry were also cabinetmakers, had moved to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, with his brothers by 1786. It is unclear whether he made this while working in Newport or in Shelburne, where a number of prominent Loyalists fled after the Revolution.
Newport, Rhode Island, or Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1780–95; mahogany, Eastern red cedar, Eastern white pine, birch, cottonwood, chestnut, brass hardware. H 313⁄4 in., W 391⁄4 in., D 193⁄4 in. 188.8.131.522