Collections › MESDA Collection › Clothespress


Walker, Robert
Place Made:
King George County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine
HOA: 78 1/2″
WOA: 55″
DOA: 25 1/2″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Clothespress in two parts; upper case contains a cabinet of 7/8″ beaded shelves enclosed by two paneled doors; (replaced) cornice with open fretwork with central plinth and Greek key carving; lower case consists of a chest of drawers with four tiers of graduated drawers; ogee bracket feet. There is evidence along the top of the piece that it was once surmounted by a fretwork gallery that was sliced off at some point during the piece’s history, and has now been replaced with a non-invasive replacement.

MAKER: Robert Walker was the brother of William Walker, an architect and master builder who worked for several landowners in the Northern Neck of Virginia, including John Mercer, who employed William Walker to construct his new house, Marlboro, on the banks of the Potomac, and engaged Robert Walker to provide furniture. From documents, we know that William Walker was in Virginia by 1730; Robert first appears in 1743. They settled in the Northern Neck and quickly became the builders and cabinetmakers of choice for the region’s leading families – the Carters, Fitzhughs, Lees, and Washingtons. William lived on the Potomac River, while Robert lived in King George County, across from Port Royal, a thriving port town strategically positioned at the midpoint of the Rappahannock. From a 1775 advertisement, we find that the Walkers were Scottish, originally from the parish of Dunottar, south of Aberdeen.

Owned by Robert Beverley II (1740-1800) of Blandfield Plantation, Essex County, Virginia. Blandfield was constructed by Beverley between 1769-1773. The clothespress may have been brought to the house through Beverley’s 1763 marriage of Maria Byrd (Carter) Beverly (1745-1817), the daughter of Colonel Landon Carter (1713-1778) and Maria Horsmanden (Byrd) Carter (1727-1744) of Sabine Hall in Richmond County, Virginia. Maria’s uncle, Charles Carter (1707-1764) of Cleve Plantation in King George County, Virginia, was an important early client of the Walker brothers. William Walker oversaw the design and construction of the house at Cleve, while Robert Walker oversaw its furnishing. The tea table (3992) and the corner commode chair (2921) in MESDA’s collection (3992) were among the likely original furnishings of Cleve.
Credit Line:
Partial gift of John G. Beverley; Partial gift of Carolyn and Mike McNamara, Christopher H. Jones, and the Anne P. and Thomas A. Gray MESDA Purchase Fund in honor of Robert Leath.