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Dressing Table

Place Made:
Rappahannock River Basin Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine
HOA: 28 1/2; WOA: 29 7/8; DOA: 20 7/8
Accession Number:
3579 (2713)
DESCRIPTION: Dressing table with molded top; three drawers; cabriole legs with pad feet; inside edges of the upper section of the legs are slightly hollowed creating a “shin-bone” effect; sides and front rail are elaborately shaped; small drop in the front center of the skirt; although the table has a yellow pine backboard, it is finished on all four sides; top overhangs all sides; scars and crack on top; brasses on outer drawers are original.

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.

The table was owned by the family of Samuel Wornom (1828-1873) of York County, Virginia, in the 1930s. The Wornom family had lived in Northumberland County during the 18th century, but the table’s exact line of descent remains unidentified.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas S. Douglas III