A Folk Art TREASURE!
Diminutive Polychrome Paint Decorated Blanket Chest
Schoharie County, New York State. Dated 1829.
When I FIRST SAW this blanket chest years ago within the collector’s home, a beam of sunlight was lighting up the center panel. IT TOOK MY BREATH AWAY......
The front panel spectacularly paint decorated, on blue ground, with a small pot bursting with massive tulips and 4-petaled flowers, centered by the initials A. N., presumable for whom the chest was made, and the date 1829. The stunning composition, rich colors, and untouched condition make this chest likely the finest New York State paint decorated chest extant. Under the lid is a fraktur with the American Eagle and shield, trumpeting angels, and an inscription entitled “Glory be to God on High”, perhaps made by a teacher as a reward of merit. The interior also has a lidded till. A sister blanket chest is known by the same hand, with the initials E.N., similar yet non-identical color placement and composition, also dated 1829. Dimensions: About 43 inches long x 17 ¼ tall x 17 ½ deep.
Exhibition: The Detroit Institute of Arts, American Folk Arts from the Collection of Ruth and James O. Keene, March, 1960 (illustrated in the catalogue, page 22). The Museum of American Folk Art, The Keene Eye; Selections from the American Folk Art Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James O. Keene, 1984 (illustrated in the catalogue, page 9).
Provenance: Important Americana, Ruth and James O. Keene, acquired before 1960 and sold at Sotheby’s, January 16, 1997 (pp 81-82); Ronnie Newman, New Jersey; private collection, New York State.