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Dressing Table

Place Made:
Tidewater Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
walnut –yellow pine –poplar
HOA: 28; WOA: 31 1/4; DOA: 20 3/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Dressing table with overhanging board top supported by a single drawer frame, the drawer mounted with two drop pulls and a chased brass keyhole escutcheon, the whole supported by vase and ball turned legs connected with curved flat cross-stretchers which are molded on top edges to make an arc, the whole supported by ball turned feet doweled through the stretcher ends and into the leg bottoms. All sides are finished. The top is made of two boards. The drawer sides are nailed, not dovetailed. The drawer liner is yellow pine; the drawer supports are poplar.

STYLE: This single-drawer dressing table is typical of the South; Northern examples more frequently have three or five drawers. The legs make a rudimentary attempt at the bold, undulating turnings of urban high Baroque tables and six-leg chests, but in this example the turner revealed his ignorance of the crisp architectural form and detail required to make such turnings successful. The shaped cross stretcher shows somewhat less naiveté and is conventionally joined to the legs by a dowel extending from the feet into the upper legs.

CONSTRUCTION: The ends of the stretchers are cut round to match the turned legs, a feature that has not been observed on any other American table. The drawer is simply rabbeted and nailed, with the bottom dadoed to the sides and front. Other 17th-century construction details include the exposed mortises for the rail above the drawer and the height of the sides of the table frame, which are more than an inch shorter than the front of the table. The bottom edges of the sides are level with the top of the drawer rail, exposing the drawer guides, which are nailed to the supports. Such a primitive method is not unusual on American joined chests, but is seldom observed in dressing tables in this country. All the wood in this table appears to be pit sawn. The keyhole escutcheon is original.

This table was discovered by Richmond antiques dealer Charles Navis in the early 20th century along the southeastern Virginia-northeastern North Carolina line.
Credit Line:
Purchase Fund