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Windsor Bench

Ruth, David __Attributed to
Place Made:
Granville County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
poplar –hickory –maple
HOA: 37 1/2; WOA: 83 1/2; DOA: 25 3/8
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Windsor bench with ten-leg stretcher base supporting dug-out seat with shaped and molded back edge; this supporting a bowed back with arms terminating in carved knuckles extending over balustraded posts; bulbous stretchers; vase shaped legs.

The Windsor chairmaker of this bench was quite well trained, in his use of academic and accepted arm support turnings, the carving of the arm terminals, and the shaping of the seat, while drastically parting from accepted form in his turnings of the legs, no doubt from a preference or local custom.

WOODS: poplar seat; hickory back rail and spindles; maple legs

MAKER: The bench is attributed to David Ruth (1761-1825), who made Windsor chairs and carriages in Granville County, North Carolina, just across the border from Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Born in Philadelphia, Ruth fought with the Continental Army during the American Revolution but moved to Granville County shortly thereafter in the late 1780s. There, he enjoyed the patronage of the Skipwith family at Prestwould Plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and the North Carolina state government. Ruth is documented receiving several commissions for making tables and Windsor chairs for the North Carolina Capitol building and other government offices. 1802, Ruth relocated permanently to Raleigh where he partnered with his son, David, Jr. (1791-1862), an ornamental painter and chair maker. His younger son, George Washington Ruth (1799-1858), was trained as a silversmith.

RELATED OBJECT: For a documented settee made in 1797 by David Ruth for Prestwould Plantation, see MESDA Acc. # 3840.

HISTORY: The bench descended in the familiy of George Tarry (1748-1816) of Ivy Hill Plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and his wife Sarah Taylor (1766-1824) of neighboring Granville County, North Carolina. The two were married on 7 December 1790. The bench was among the early furnishings for Ivy Hill, the Tarry family home near Clarksville, Virginia. In 1800, the Windsor chair maker David Ruth was listed in the Granville County census on the same page as Sarah’s father, William Taylor (d. 1803).
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Lewis Tarry.