Desk and Bookcase

Artist/maker unknown, American

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


c. 1762

Mahogany, white cedar, yellow poplar, yellow pine, silvered glass; gilded brass

8 feet 6 inches × 44 1/4 inches × 24 inches (259.1 × 112.4 × 61 cm) Height (of writing surface): 32 1/8 inches (81.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 102, American Art, first floor (Flammer Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg Fund for Major Acquisitions, and with supporting funds from the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, funds contributed by H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., and other private donors by contribution and exchange, 1990

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The design of this desk and bookcase corresponds to the architecture of the room where it was intended to be placed. It is an ornate example of early Philadelphia furniture and reflects the ways in which the city's craftsmen interpreted the Baroque furniture style with carved Rococo ornament fashionable in England at this time. The glass doors---mirrored with silvered mercury---show an Asian influence: the pattern of their mullions (wood strips) derive from Chinese architecture and furniture.

The family of Philadelphian Anne Shippen Willing commissioned this work, likely upon her marriage to Tench Francis, Jr., a merchant, in 1762. It was a common practice for families, especially Quakers, to provide their daughters with sets of furniture when they married.

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