This desk is a leading example of American furniture from the rococo or Chippendale period. Made in Boston, it reflects the sophisticated features associated with the center of furniture production in colonial America. In addition to the many intricacies inside, the desk’s exterior features, such as the hairy claw feet, the rosettes with trailing leaves and flowers, and the carved and gilded moldings framing the mirrors serve as not only a testament to the designer but to the carvers as well.
Maker attributed to George Bright, American, 1726-1805
  • Secretary
Date between 1770 and 1785
Medium mahogany, white pine, mirrors, gilt and brass
Dimensions Overall: 102 1/2 × 42 1/2 × 24 inches (260.4 × 108 × 61 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Gibbs-Williams Fund, and funds from Louis Hamburger
Accession Number 66.131
Department American Art before 1950
On View American W261, Level 2 (see map)
Alsop family (Middleton, Connecticut, USA);
19th century, George Wyllys (former Secretary of State of Connecticut) family (Connecticut, USA);
(Israel Sack, Inc.);
1966-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Connecticut Tercentenary Loan Exhibition, Three Centuries of Connecticut Furniture. Exh. cat., the Morgan Memorial. Hartford, CT, 1935, no. 218. (Lent by Joseph W. Alsop)

American Decorative Arts from the Pilgrims to the Revolution. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1967, no. 50, p. 30 (ill.).

DIA Handbook, 1971, p. 130.

“Family Art Game,” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News, April 29, 1984, 26 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 182–183 (ill.).