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Chest of Drawers

Muir, John
Place Made:
Alexandria Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
mahogany –white pine –poplar
HOA 39 3/4″; WOA 40 1/4″; DOA 18 3/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Drawn from plate 76 of Hepplewhite’s THE CABINET-MAKER AND UPHOLSTERER’S GUIDE, this bow front chest of drawers is the only signed example of the work of John Muir known. The bow-front chest veneered with highly figured mahogany sits atop French feet and a scalloped apron. The case has four tiers of drawers, with the top containing two adjacent drawers. Each drawer is embellished with an inlaid keyhole surround and a single band. Barber pole inlay wraps around the base and the edge of the top is decorated with a band of contrasting wood.

INSCRIPTION: In script: “John Muir / Maker Alexandria / DC”

MAKER: A native of Scotland, John Muir operated a cabinet shop on Royal Street in Alexandria, Virginia, during the late eighteenth century through his death in 1815. From 1794-1797, John Muir partnered with a fellow cabinet and chairmaker named Buckland. After the pair dissolved their partnership, John continued the “Cabinet and Chair Making business, in the neatest and most fashionable manner”, in addition to selling quantities of mahogany lumber until his death in 1815. Shortly after his death, his widow Mary Muir advertised that she would carry on the cabinet business; however, it appears she did not carry on the trade for long, since a year after John’s death, cabinetmakers Penn and Hannon advertise their business “at the large Brick House formerly occupied by John Muir.”

Descended in the Harper-Gregory-Powell families of Alexandria, VA. Was first owned by Sally M. (Harper) Long Davis (1786-1844) who married Captain Seth Long of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1806 and Josiah Hewes Davis (1783-1862) of Alexandria, Virginia, in 1815.
Credit Line:
Gift of John C. and Corinne M. Scott, Alexandria, Virginia.