Josiah Quincy, John Singleton Copley (1738–1815) →

Josiah Quincy, John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)

Copley’s portrait captures the humane warmth and intelligence that made the Boston merchant Josiah Quincy (1710–1784) the trusted friend of John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. Quincy made a fortune as a merchant and retired at the age of thirty-eight to a second life as diplomat, regimental officer, and entrepreneur. Copley depicted his understated wealth, self-assurance, and dignified vital- ity, without overlooking his quirks. Years later, the artist Gilbert Stuart complimented Copley’s observational skills by noting that Quincy had a white hair in his eyebrow,
“and there it is.”

1767, oil on canvas, 343⁄4 x 28 in., 6.1.903

Plate and Platter from a Dinner Service with the emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati for George and Martha Washington of Virginia →

Plate and Platter from a Dinner Service with the emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati for George and Martha Washington of Virginia

George Washington used his Society of the Cincinnati dinner service of 302 pieces in the first presidential homes in New York and Philadelphia and later at Mount Vernon. Various sketches of the new insignia of the Society of the Cincinnati were carried to China by Samuel Shaw, the supercargo on the first voyage to Canton in 1784. He worked with Chinese decorators to come up with the final design for this service. Shaw had to settle for a simplistic design for this service with only the Angel of Fame holding the Eagle insignia from a blue and white ribbon as the Chinese decorators were unable to combine all the elements Shaw originally wished to include. Shaw later became the first U.S. consul to China and placed orders for additional services for other members of the Society of the Cincinnati. The later services featured only the insignia with an eagle bearing a scene with Cincinnatus. The services were personalized with the owners’ initials.

China, 1784–85, platter 101⁄2 x 83⁄16 in.; plate diam. 93⁄4 in. 2.1.HRD.1507-1, -2

Chest of drawers, possibly by
 Johannes Mayer (1794–1883) →

Chest of drawers, possibly by Johannes Mayer (1794–1883)

Mahontongo Valley, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1833. Yellow poplar, all primary elements except the top; conifer top and drawer bottoms; brass knobs; iron nails and locks; painted decoration.

H 49 1/2 in., W 43 5/8 in., D 21 1/2 in.

Coffeepot, William Hollingshead
(ca. 1723–1808) →

Coffeepot, William Hollingshead (ca. 1723–1808)

Repoussé- and flat-chased ornament in the Rococo style was exceptional in American colonial silver. It added as much as one-third to the cost of the object because it was exe- cuted by specialist craftsmen who primarily were immigrants from Europe. This coffeepot is engraved with the Bayard crest (a demi-horse argent), and its most likely original owners were John Bubenheim Bayard (1738–1807) and his wife Margaret Hodge (1740–1780), who married in Philadelphia in 1759. The coffeepot descended to their great-great-great granddaughter, who also inherited a teapot made contemporaneously by Philip Syng Jr. (1703–1789), engraved with the Bayard crest and coat of arms.

1765–70, H 141⁄2 in., W 81⁄2 in., gross weight 45 oz. 6 dwt. 5.1.1311

Bureau table, Daniel Goddard →

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.


The Dietrich American Foundation collects, researches and makes available for loan, historically important examples of American decorative and fine arts. Learn More