This chest is one of four recorded small chests attributed to Johannes Spitler. These smaller chests differ from one another in size, proportion, and style of foot, whereas most of the full-size Spitler chests exhibit an identical foot profile. This chest is the only one with a splayed foot, in this case applied, mitered, and nailed rather than dovetailed and continuous with the base molding; the case of the chest itself is dovetailed. The palette employs Spitler's standard colors, and the general layout is one more variation on a combination of the motifs most often found on chests: birds, hearts, pinwheels, tulips, and crescents. This is the only recorded chest with a heart in an upright orientation; Spitler usually positioned them upside down, as shown laterally here and as depicted in the fraktur by Jacob Strickler which were the source for some of Spitler's design motifs.
It is unusual to find two sizes of winged birds or doves in Spitler's work. It appears that Spitler laid out the birds with the aid of templates or stencils before painting; the six birds on this chest have incised lines that define their outlines. The "cornstalk" leaves on the two tulips on the front of this chest relate conceptually to another of the small chests attributed to Spitler on which crescent shapes form the leaves of two stylized plants. The only decoration on the lid of the chest cataloged here is a six-petaled compass star. The wrought-iron hinges with small inverted triangular terminations are typical of Spitler's chests.
Donald R. Walters, "Small Chest," in Stacy C. Hollander, American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 472.