Valley of Virginia, probably Shenandoah County

Circa 1800

Walnut, yellow pine

H: 38; W: 68″; D: 19.5″


The sheer number and idiosyncrasy of the inlays on this sideboard distinguish it from its more conservative cousins among sideboards made in the Valley of Virginia. Key elements of the unusual decoration appear in other pieces of furniture from Winchester, the surrounding area of Frederick County and Shenandoah County to the south (see MESDA S-11470, S-2321, and S-3588). The whimsical nature of the inlaid decoration combined with the overall aesthetic and proportions of this sideboard captures the spirit of a handful of cabinetmaking shops in the Valley who were freed from the dictates of urban fashion by their “backcountry” location. These shops were either unable or unwilling to adopt the restraint that defined Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington versions of neoclassicism. The cabinetmaking skills of these shops were excellent and on the whole the larger group is represented by robustly joined, well-crafted furniture.

Additional decoration was provided by the varied colors of the wood inlays which were the product of the maker, specifically for and unique to this piece. Bold and exuberant, the inlays interplay with each other and the color and grain of the choice walnut for the case and produce one of the foremost examples from this important regional group.



[1] Hurst, Ronald, and Prown, Jonathan, Southern Furniture, 1680-1830, Williamsburg, Va., The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1997, page 513.







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