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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
 
 
 
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
High Chest of Drawers
1730–60
Paint, gesso, gold leaf, eastern white pine, soft maple, and brass

87 x 41 ½ x 23 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Bayou Bend Collection
Gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Arts of North America
 
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An obsession with the S-curve dominated American design by around 1725. With outwardly curved knees and inwardly turned ankles, graceful legs (called cabriole legs) became the hallmark of Late Baroque, or Queen Anne, furniture. Meanwhile, cabinetmakers grew increasingly inventive and ambitious in their designs.

This high chest of drawers is made mostly of pine rather than of a more expensive wood because it was intended to be japanned. An application
of paint, gesso (a mixture of plaster and glue), and gold leaf, japanning
is a decorative technique used to imitate Asian lacquer, a coveted but prohibitively expensive luxury. A superb example, this high chest represents a master craftsman’s orchestration of skilled specialists, including carvers, cabinetmakers, gilders, turners, and japanners.