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Desk and Bookcase

Evans, Isaac
Place Made:
Mason County Kentucky United States of America
Date Made:
DATE MADE: ca. 1800-1810
cherry –poplar
HOA: 96 1/2; WOA: 42; DOA: 22 1/2
Accession Number:
This desk and bookcase is boldly signed “Made by my hand / Isaac Evans / Mayesville KY”. It is now thought to be part of a sizable group of furniture that is associated with the family of Gerrard Calvert (1765-1840) in Mason County, Kentucky. Calvert’s shop included his brother-in-law John Foxworthy (1783-c.1860) and nephew Peter Tuttle (1782-1860). Isaac Evans (d.1817) married Foxworthy’s daughter, Delilah Foxworthy. Calvert, Foxworthy, and Tuttle were all listed as cabinetmakers in the 1810 census of Mason County. Because Evans was still an apprentice at the time of the 1810 census he was not listed by name in that document; his early death prevented him from appearing in the 1820 census. At times this desk and bookcase has been associated with a different Isaac Evans who lived in Montgomery and Fleming County, Kentucky. However, there is no evidence that this other Isaac Evans was a cabinetmaker.

The Calvert-Tuttle-Foxworthy shop is best known for making furniture with distinctive “bandy-legs” like those on MESDA’s Mason County chest of drawers (MESDA acc. 5691.1) This desk and bookcase is important as an example of the more typically neoclassical furniture also being produced in the shop.

It is not uncommon for furniture to be signed by apprentices and journeymen, sometimes covertly, as a way for them to express agency over work created under the umbrella of the shop.

RELATED OBJECTS: The MESDA collection includes a chest of drawers with “bandy legs” from the Calvert-Foxworthy-Tuttle Shop (MESDA acc. 5691). The museum also has, on loan, a sugar desk with French feet that is also likely from the shop (MESDA acc. 5902).

DESCRIPTION: Bookcase with two flush-paneled doors enclosing permanently mounted shelves. Central prospect door with light inlaid stringing; light inlaid column design surrounding; with arched and plain pigeon holes; all mounted on a long drawer with two drawers above it. The desk exterior is equipped with four lipped drawers mounted with bail and rosette brasses the whole supported by splayed bracket feet of the “French” type. The desk and bookcase are decorated with chamfered corners inlaid to resemble fluting, and the interior is inlaid with string inlay.

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