SHOP: The skirt shaping and form of the legs, particularly the deeply sculpted, elongated partial scroll of the inner edges and the sharp break of the leg profile below the scroll, establish a useful stylistic signature of this shop. These details are shared by the base of a cabriole high chest attributed to the same shop, with a history of descent in the Finch family of King George County, now in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. The unusual leg form of both pieces and the paneled trifid feet of the high chest suggest an Irish emigrant maker. In his 1997 article, “Irish Influences on Cabinetmaking in Virginia’s Rappahannock River Basin,” Ron Hurst presents evidence that furniture made in the Rappahannock River Basin exhibits a variety of Irish design characteristics and that MESDA’s dressing table and the base of the high chest in the Colonial Williamsburg collection fall within this closely related group of pieces.
FORM: Cabriole leg dressing tables, which earlier were made en suite with high chests, were fashionable in Virginia and North Carolina to the end of the colonial period. (RAES)
CONSTRUCTION: Even though the table has a yellow pine back, the rear knee brackets are shaped and finished like those of the front and the top is molded on the back edge. This is consistent with eastern Virginia production in general.