China table. Williamsburg, Virginia, 1765-1775. Mahogany. OH: 30 1/8"; OW: 36 3/8"; OD: 23 5/16".
Museum purchase, Mrs. William C. Schoettle
Card table. Newport, Rhode Island, 1760-1790. Mahogany and white pine. OH: 28 7/8"; OW: 30 3/8"; OD (open): 31 1/2".
Chest. Johannes Spitler, Shenandoah County, Virginia, 1800-1805. Yellow pine, chestnut, brass, iron, and paint. OH: 27 1/2"; OW: 48 1/2"; OD: 21 3/4".
Tall Case Clock. Thomas Tompion, London, England, ca. 1700. European walnut, oak, gilt bronze, brass, steel, and glass. OH: 115 1/2"; OW: 24 1/4"; OD: 13 1/4".
The Colonial Williamsburg furniture collection encompasses a broad range of goods produced in Great Britain and America from the middle of the 17th century through the 1830s. This evolving collection was assembled over many decades with an eye toward furnishing dozens of historic structures in the restored town of Williamsburg. It consequently includes not only high‐style works produced for the wealthy, but simple forms used in kitchens and workshops. This broad cross section of the cabinet trade is one of the collection’s most important aspects.
The Foundation’s American holdings are especially strong in furniture from the Chesapeake colonies, the Carolina Low Country, and the Southern Backcountry. Standouts include works by Peter Scott and Anthony Hay of Williamsburg, John and Hugh Finlay of Baltimore, John Shaw of Annapolis, John Shearer of Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Thomas Lee of Charleston, South Carolina. British, New England, and Middle Atlantic furniture are also major strengths, with significant works by London’s Giles Grendey, John Townsend of Newport, Rhode Island, Benjamin Frothingham of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and Thomas Affleck and Benjamin Randolph of Philadelphia.
Included in Colonial Williamsburg’s important body of paint decorated furniture are outstanding chests from Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, together with all manner of painted fancy furniture and objects of more recent vintage acquired for the folk art collection.
Books about Colonial Williamsburg Furniture
- Greenlaw, Barry A. New England Furniture at Williamsburg Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1974.
- Gusler, Wallace B. The Furniture of Williamsburg and Eastern Virginia, 1710-1790. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1979.
- Hurst, Ronald L. and Jonathan Prown. Southern Furniture, 1680-1830: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection. Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997.
The most up-to-date, comprehensive study of furniture made and used in the early South.
By Ronald L. Hurst and Jonathan Prown
Winner, Charles F. Montgomery Award
Southern Furniture is the first modern, broad-ranging study of furniture made and used in the early South. Going beyond earlier aesthetic and stylistic analyses, the authors provide the most recent information about the region's cabinetmaking traditions and ethnic and cultural diversity. One hundred eighty-three catalog entries discuss the utilitarian, aesthetic, and symbolic functions of each object. Published in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers Colonial Williamsburg Decorative Arts Series 640 pp., 220 color photographs, 565 black-and-white illustrations, 3 maps, 26 line drawings, 9 3/4 x 11 1/4 1997; 2nd printing 1998 CW No. 521930 Hardbound ISBN 0-87935-200-0 $75.00