Chest of drawers

Chest of drawers

Artist: Lawrence Thompson
Type: cherry and tulip poplar
Year: circa 1860
Size/Dimensions: 40 7/8 x 43 ¾ x 17 3/8 in.
Origin: Gift of Sue Thweatt
Accession Number: 79.11

The maker, Lawrence Thompson (1799–1856), arrived in Arkansas as early as 1821 and settled in the northeast portion of Lawrence County, which became Greene County in 1833. The only reference to his occupation occurred in the 1850 Census for Greene County, which listed Thompson’s occupation as that of farmer. However, there was a strong tradition of dual occupations among artisans in rural areas. Often a potter, cabinetmaker, or gunsmith would abandon his profession altogether to take up farming.
An unmolded two-board top rests above two small drawers and four slightly graduated full drawers that are of lap-jointed and cut-nailed construction. The fronts of the smaller drawers are inlaid only while the larger drawers have line and spandrel or quarter-fan inlays. The mushroom drawer knobs are recent replacements. Double recessed, framed panel sides are tenoned and pegged to square stiles which terminate in turned, inverted pear-shaped feet (replacements). The case back is framed with vertically lap-joined boards, leveled and cut nailed to the case. The use of the deciduous tulip poplar as a cabinetmaking wood was highly favored by makers east of the Mississippi River where it grew widely and abundantly. However, in Arkansas its indigenous range was limited to a narrow chain of hills running southeast from Greene County, where this piece was made, down into Phillips County, and continuing on to their terminus in northeast Mississippi.

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Chest of drawers