Greene County, Virginia Chest of Drawers
Attributed to George Shearman (1762-1851)
From the Parrott/Shearman family
Walnut, yellow pine
H: 37”; W: 37”; D: 19.5”
A very fine four-drawer chest with a shaped skirt and a variation of square bracket feet. The overall profile of the chest is quintessentially Virginia “neat and plain” but features imaginative inlaid wavy string and eight-pointed star decoration on the skirt. Despite the chest’s small size and neoclassical appearance, it is built with robust techniques such as dovetailed backboards, thick stock and heavy interior framing – suggesting the chest was made by a craftsman originally trained as a joiner, which appears be the story behind this little chest.
This chest bears a MESDA label (S-8607) and has an associated file which includes a cryptic note: “Family tradition that it was made for a Mrs. Parrot by a Mr. Sherman, a Greene County, Virginia cabinetmaker.”
This family history offers the likely provenance of the chest. It was constructed when the territory later formed as Greene County was still part of Orange County. The Parrott family were large landowners in Lancaster County, Virginia before the Revolutionary War. The death of his parents, hard economic times following the War and depleted lands forced William Parrott, Jr (1754-1854) to move his wife, children, his younger sister Elizabeth (1763-1840) and brother Charles west to Albemarle County in 1787. There his sister Elizabeth married George Shearman (1762-1851), a cabinetmaker and son of a joiner, Martin Shearman, originally from Northumberland County .
William Parrott pushed further west into Orange County and purchased 417 acres in the Quinque community (near present day Ruckersville) in 1789. Elizabeth and George Shearman bought the adjoining 251 acres. The families maintained close ties for many generations and their descendants still live in Quinque today.
A rare opportunity to purchase a chest with a family provenance from a region of the Virginia piedmont from which few attributable pieces have emerged.