About This Artwork

Attributed to John Cogswell
American, 1738-1819
Boston, Massachusetts

Chest of Drawers, 1760/90

Mahogany with white pine
79.7 x 91.8 x 50.8 cm (31 3/8 x 36 1/8 x 20 in.)
Mark: chalk inscription on base possibly reading "Bottom"; sticker back left upper corner with printing: "No./Property of/Edith Cluett"

Helen Bowen Blair Fund, 1979.499

This serpentine-front bombé chest, one of only six known, is an exceptional example of this rare form, and it has retained its original finish and brasses. Though seemingly plain in design, the bombé chest was quite complicated and costly to produce because it took an excellent craftsman to curve the drawer sides, mahogany front, and the interior dovetail joints to match the swell of the case. While most American furniture forms were derived from European sources and were disseminated throughout the colonies, some forms like the Boston bombé chest are now known to have been produced only in their specific regions.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, American Art Galleries, Loan Exhibition of Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Furniture and Glass, 1929, cat. 631.

Publication History

Milo M. Naeve, “American Bombe Furniture,” Bulletin of The Art Institute of Chicago 74, 2 (1980), p. 17 (ill.).

Milo M. Naeve, “Daring Design From Boston,” Antiques World 2, 7 (May 1980), pp. 82–83 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report, 1979–1980 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1980), p. 13, pl. 43.

Marvin D. Schwartz, “Americana Collection Growing at Art Institute,” Antique Monthly (May 1980), p. 21a (ill.).

Milo M. Naeve, Identifying American Furniture (American Association for State and Local History, 1981), p. 22, no. 34.

“Design/Today: Expanded Art Institute Traces Decorative Arts History,” Furniture/Today (Sept. 26, 1988), p. 22 (ill.).

Tom Armstrong, “The New Field–McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute,” Magazine Antiques 134, 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 822–35, pl. 4.

Marvin D. Schwartz, “New Wing Presents Design, Colonial Period to Present,” Antiques and The Arts Weekly (Dec. 30, 1988), pp. 38–39 (ill.).

Harold Sack, “The Bombe furniture of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts,” Magazine Antiques 135 (May 1989), pp. 1178–1189, pl. 16.

Milo M. Naeve, Identifying American Furniture, 2nd ed., (American Association for State and Local History, 1989), p. 10, no. 35

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 82-84, no. 24.

Ownership History

Israel Sack, New York City, by 1920; George Cluett Collection, c. 1925; by descent to Mr. and Mrs. Walker, West Hartford, Conn., 1955; Israel Sack, New York City, by 1979; sold to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1979.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website