Shenandoah County, Virginia
Walnut, poplar, yellow pine
H: 98”; W: 55”; D: 22”.
This impressive corner cupboard is a fine example of the Woodstock, Virginia cabinetmaking school in the beginning of the 19th century. As is true of so many other regional styles in the Shenandoah Valley, the Woodstock artisans co-mingled elements of German and Anglo traditions. The aesthetic that emerged in the crossroads town of Woodstock is a reluctant acceptance of neoclassicism which here was defined as the use of earlier forms but absent the carved elements, decorative molding and three-dimensionality. This is illustrated in this example by the handling of the pediment which is rendered in a completely flat surface shorn of carved rosettes or outline moldings. While the inlay and surface decoration give a nod to the new neoclassical style, the girth of this cupboard ignores the neoclassical emphasis on elegance, lightness and verticality.
At least two other examples of case furniture appear to come from the same shop and are important examples of this regional style. One is a clock case made for works by Woodstock clockmaker Jacob Fry. (See lot 683 of the Deyerle sale, Sotheby’s 5/26/95). A second inlaid corner cupboard with arched glass doors sold at Leland Little’s auction in 2005.
Woodstock, the county seat was laid out in 1762 and was a center of activity after Shenandoah County was formed from a portion of Frederick County in 1772. Jacob Fry the clockmaker worked there from 1791 until his death in 1814. There are a number of cabinetmakers recorded by MESDA who worked in the area in the late 18th and early 19th century. One of these, Christian Bear, also produced furniture which falls into the above-described Woodstock style but more fully embraces neoclassical forms. (See MESDA file NN1946)
The cupboard survives in excellent condition with its structural integrity intact. The finials are replacements.