Designer / Maker
Designed by Ambrose Heal (1872-1959)
Manufactured by Frederick Coote (1832-1919), for Heal & Son (1810-present)
Pine, painted green and red
152.4 x 106.6 x 51.4 cm
English (London), circa 1899
Heal showed a version of this chest at the 1899 Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society. Drawings in the Heal archive demonstrate how the design evolved from the original concept with a separate cupboard on top, to the model as made, in a single piece. Detailed sketches also show Heal working out the catch for the doors, the drawer fronts and the handholds. In the catalogue of the 1899 exhibition, the chest was described as ‘made of best pine painted holly green’ with handholds and chamfers picked out in bright red. A contemporary photograph of a ‘Cottager’s Chest’, together with the other images and information cited above, are in Oliver S. Heal, Sir Ambrose Heal and the Heal Cabinet Factory 1897-1939, 2014, pp. 228-29.
An example of the painted ‘Cottager’s Chest’ is in the collection of the Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Miami (see Wendy Kaplan, Leading “The Simple Life” The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain 1880-1910, 1999, cat. no. 51). For a further version, now in a private collection, see H. Blairman & Sons, Furniture and Works of Art (2014), no. 20.
Heal’s went on to retail a simplified version of this chest, made of chestnut. This more commonly found variant, introduced in 1905/06, sits on a solid plinth and lacks the striking catch for the doors (see Heal, op. cit., p. 179, top right and left).