Johannes Spitler ( 1774-1837)
Page County, Virginia
50” Wide, 23” Deep, 24” Tall
Johannes Spitler was born in Mill Creek in an area known as Massanutten near present day Luray, Virginia. He was the grandson of Swiss Mennonites who settled the area, moving there from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania beginning about 1730. By the 1770’s there was an ongoing conversion of these families to the Baptist faith and inevitable splits occurred. A more conservative arm emigrated to Fairfield County, Ohio in the opening years of the 19th century and Johannes Spitler and his family were members of this group.
It appears that all of Spitler’s decorated furniture dates from his years in Virginia, although a couple of pieces have shown up in Ohio. Some twenty-four pieces of furniture, including twenty-one painted blanket chests can be attributed with confidence to him. Many of these iconic pieces are in the prominent museum collections. The appearance in the marketplace of any Spitler chest represents a rare and noteworthy opportunity for a private collector to acquire an iconic example of American folk art.
The distinct and highly graphic designs of Spitler’s chests, clocks and hanging cupboards in combination with their brilliant coloration using only a limited palette of red, blue, black and white render his work immediately recognizable and highly desirable.
This chest will appear in decorative arts scholar Betsy Davison’s forthcoming book on Spitler.