1973 2000 2
Title: Dressing Table
Materials: Eastern white pine; basswood, brass, iron, paint, and metallic powder
Origin: America, New England, Maine (probably), circa 1830
Credit Line: Anonymous gift
Exciting Expressions: American Painted Furniture
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Many 19th-century Americans used vivid colors, swirling patterns and symbolic or decorative motifs to enhance furniture surfaces that reflected fashion, family heritage and a sense of design. Some of the best examples that artistic flair are in a new exhibition, “Exciting Expressions: American Painted Furniture,” in the new and expanded Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
“Painted surfaces elevated furniture made of inexpensive and plain woods to objects of decoration and beauty,” said Tara Chicirda, Colonial Williamsburg curator of furniture. “Some painted designs expressed current fashions. Others reflected the cultural background of the maker or owner, or their pride in the new nation.” Paint also provided a uniform appearance when multiple types of woods were used in a single piece and could create colorful patterns in imitation of the more expensive woods, such as mahogany and rosewood.
A Maine dressing table, one of 16 objects in the exhibition, simulates the grain of rosewood to mask the white pine and basswood used in its construction. Not content with the faux wood grain finish, the decorator added stenciling and illustrations for an exuberant design to stimulate the senses.
Painted chests with or without drawers were commonly found in the homes of Germanic settlers and their descendants in America. These chests were often painted with motifs symbolic of love, marriage, life, and religion. A Pennsylvania example in the exhibit is constructed of tulip poplar, iron, brass and paint.
The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Admission is included in any multi-day Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or by separate museums ticket. For information call (757) 220-7724.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY.
For more information please visit: The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
Posted by Joanne Molina