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Corner Cupboard

Slusher, Christopher
Place Made:
Floyd County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
walnut, yellow pine
HOA: 91 7/8; WOA: 52 1/2
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Corner cupboard: Has a broken scroll pediment with applied rosettes and acorn-shaped finials in the center and at each end, the finials have turned dowels that fit into square plinths; the tympanum is decorated with applied C-scrolls that extend in a snake-like manner from the applique below the central finial plinth to the urns that top each pilaster; the urns atop the two upper pilasters are pegged to the stiles on either side of the glazed doors; the upper square lights of the doors have small C-scrolls in each of the corners; the lower case features three pilasters flanking and between the two flat paneled lower doors and attached with pegs to the stiles; a single drawer with lipped edge is placed between the lower and upper doors; the upper and lower pilasters, urns, and two lower doors are decorated with distinctive floral and geometric light-wood inlays; the tympanum features the inlaid initials, “AW”; the top shelf is set on a half dovetail groove, the lower shelves are dadoed into the backs and returns; vertical backboards are attached with trunnels, or pegs, as are all the moldings, decorative elements, and applied bracket feet; the sides and back boards extend to the floor to support the case; drawer runners are nailed at back.

STYLE: The tympanum applique below the central finial plinth and the urns surmounting the pilasters occur on some furniture from Shenandoah County, Virginia, but in a slightly different form. Most unusual is the use of applied and inlaid lightwood features, such as the AW initials, geometric shapes, and the handles and finials of the urns atop the pilasters. The C-scrolled spandrels in the upper lights are another uncommon detail. The generous width of the cupboard, inclusion of inlaid initials of the owner, and wooden pins used to attach moldings and pilasters all attest to the heavily German population of this region of the Valley of Virginia. Christopher Slusher, the maker of this cupboard, was of German descent.

MAKER: Christopher Slusher was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and migrated with his family to western Maryland and then to Frederick County, Virginia, before settling in Floyd County around 1800. The corner cupboard presents clear evidence of the Slusher family’s migration pattern from the Shenandoah Valley to Floyd County.

MESDA first recorded Christopher’s father, Peter Slusher/Schlosser, as a carpenter in 1769 Frederick County, Maryland, deeds. Christopher’s Floyd County probate records list a work bench and carpenter’s tools, a glue pot, paint, turpentine, and walnut, cherry and pine plank. The family’s reputation for woodworking continued, as the 1860 Floyd County census lists Christopher’s grandson, Jeremiah H. Slusher, as a 40-year-old cabinetmaker living one household above Hattie Dickerson’s (the cupboard’s last owner) great-grandfather, Jacob S. Harmon, a well-to-do farmer.

GROUP: A corner cupboard with a non-specific Virginia provenance, but similar design and decoration, can also be attributed to Christopher Slusher and is in the Yale University Art Collection.

WOODS: walnut with yellow pine secondary.

Long noted for its resemblance to Shenandoah Valley corner cupboards, this example was discovered in Floyd County, Virginia, having descended in the family of Miss Hattie Dickerson. Dickerson was descended from both the cabinetmaker, Christopher Slusher (1757-1845), and his patron, whose “AW” initials are inlaid in the tympanum, Anna Maria Weddle (1851-1834).

Credit Line:
Mr. and Mrs. William L. Gray Purchase Fund