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Christie’s To Auction Newport Bureau Table Valued at $700K-$900K

Monday, January 14, 2013


Fewer than 10 of these exquisite pieces by 18th-century cabinetmaker John Townsend exist, and one of those is being auctioned off by Christie's later this month. Photo: Christie's.

A historic and rare piece of 18th-century furniture made by Newport cabinetmaker John Townsend and once owned by the Pell family will be auctioned this month by Christie’s, the world’s leading auction house. The estimated value of the piece is between $700,000 and $900,000, according to Christie's.

This "important" Chippendale carved mahogany block-and-shell bureau table is signed by the renowned Newport cabinetmaker (1733-1809).  It is one of the lead highlights of Christie's Americana Week 2013, and will be auctioned in New York City on January 25, 2013.

Rare + exquisite

One of less than 10 known to exist, and never before offered at auction, this bureau table features Townshend’s iconic shell motif as well as the original rococo brass fixtures, which retain their original varnish.  Townsend’s handwritten signature, appearing on the underside of the center drawer, indicates that the cabinetmaker took exceptional pride in this exquisite piece, according to Christie's.

The bureau was likely acquired in the 19th century by the Pell family of New York (and famously of Newport) during their summer sojourns to Newport, which was the elite getaway of its time. The piece is also known to have furnished the Pell residence at Tuxedo Park, before being moved to New York City where it was recently discovered.

Several comparable bureau tables attributed to Townsend are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago Winterthur Museum, Yale University Art Gallery and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


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