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A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST
A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST
A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST
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A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST
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Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more
A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST

BERN TOWNSHIP, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, 1780-1790

Details
A POLYCHROME PAINT-DECORATED WHITE PINE MINIATURE BLANKET CHEST
BERN TOWNSHIP, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, 1780-1790
designs painted in green, red and black on simulated panels of white, all on a green ground
10 3⁄4 in. high, 22 in. wide, 10 3⁄4 in. deep
Provenance
Dr. Earl F. and Mrs. Ada F. Robacker, White Plains, New York
Sotheby's, New York, 26 January 1989, lot 1050
Literature
Peter Goodman, Notebook, no. 891.
Special notice

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Cara Zimmerman
Cara Zimmerman Head of Americana and Outsider Art

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Lot Essay

A gem of Pennsylvania-German craftsmanship, this miniature chest relates closely to the celebrated "Unicorn" chests of Bern Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. As discussed by Patricia Keller-Conner, this group of chests comprising of approximately 40 examples displays construction details indicating the workmanship of as many as eight different shops (A-H) and painted ornament by the hands of four different decorators (1-4). Constructed exclusively of white pine and lacking drawers, this chest illustrates the practices of Keller-Conner's shop F; yet, the moldings of the lid meet in the front at mitered rather than butt joints, a feature that Keller-Conner notes is present in another chest with both white pine and tulip woods that she ascribes to workshop G. Combining the features of both F and G shops, this chest may support Keller-Conner's postulation that the F and G shops were in fact a single entity with demonstrable variation. The central lobed tulip with dotted surround and vines with elongated tulips and the occasional leaf with thick outlines are details seen in the work ascribed by Keller-Conner to decorator 2, whose handiwork is seen on some of the most elaborate survivals of this group, including black-unicorn full-size chests at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (acc. no. 2014-145-22) and the Reading Public Museum (acc. no. 1944.132.1). Dated 1785 and 1787 respectively, two chests of similar size to the example offered here attributed by Keller-Conner to workshop F and decorator 2 also lack the Unicorn motif but display similar floral ornament (Winterthur Museum, acc. no. 1959.2806 and Reading Museum and Art Gallery). See Patricia Conner-Keller, "Workmanship, Form and Cultural Identity: The Black-Unicorn Paint-Decorated Chests of Berks County, Pennsylvania" (M.A. Thesis, The University of Delaware, 1984), pp. 4, 22, 32, 53, figs. 23-38) and Patricia Keller-Conner, "Black-Unicorn Chests of Berks County, Pennsylvania," The Magazine Antiques (October 1991), pp. 592-605.

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