Western Maryland, probably Hagerstown
91” tall x 54” wide (tips of cornice) x 25” deep
This two piece corner cupboard was acquired in Washington County, Maryland an area traversed by the “Great Wagon Road” an early highway on which settlers traveled west from Pennsylvania into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The southern county boundary is formed by the Potomac River so that the area felt the influences from both wagon and river trade. Hagerstown, the county seat and the largest town was founded in 1762 and was situated at the crossroads of the “Warrior Trading Path” (now Route 11) and the Great Wagon Road and the town’s steady stream of travelers insured a constant supply of cultural imprints and fashionable ideas flowing into the town and assimilated by cabinetmakers and other furnishing manufacturers.
Like many cupboard from the upper Potomac River Valley, this example has a strong architectural character. The fluted pilasters which define the profile of the corner cupboard are a feature common to the region of southeastern Pennsylvania, western Maryland and the Shenandoah Valley. Blanket chests and shranks from these areas often have this form of detailing. As in other pieces from western Maryland, here they become part of a larger architectural whole, suggesting a column with its capital as part of the cupboard’s cornice sitting atop a second column framing the lower section of the cupboard. The complex cornice, finely carved dentil molding and applied beading which trim the stepped tops of these columns are expertly joined. Looking at corner cupboards from this region and period as a whole, this example is on the lighter, elegant side of the spectrum when contrasted with other bolder, more heavily framed and carved cupboards that have been attributed to western Maryland.
The plinth feet with attached ogee brackets are also frequently found in the area. Corner cupboards from western Maryland also make decorative use of the areas on either side of the two drawers. In this example they are outlined in applied cockbeading, while in other examples this area is decorated with carved fan appliqués. Defining the separate areas at the end of the horizontal drawer plane also allows the cabinetmaker to avoid having to make a triangular shaped drawer. Here the rectangular drawers are fully dovetailed and retain their original hardware. The corner cupboard is in excellent condition and retains a very early finish and original hardware.