It’s been more than half a century since the groundbreaking Loan Exhibition of Southern Furniture 1640-1820 held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 1952, and much has happened since then, not just in the study of southern furniture but of the decorative arts of the region as a whole. It is time, indeed, to revisit the subject on a grand scale, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is doing so with A Rich and Varied Culture: The Material World of the Early South, a new long-term exhibition that opens on February 15 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. It will include some 350 objects drawn from Colonial Williamsburg’s collection as well as from fourteen private collectors and ten other institutions, chief among them the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with which CWF recently inaugurated an innovative five-year partnership. The furniture, paintings, silver and pewter, ceramics, and architectural elements-to name just some of the types of objects included-will showcase the state of research and discovery in the field today. Together, they trace Americans’ movement west and southward and reveal the diverse influences reflected in the decorative arts created by and for them.
- Chest with two drawers by Johannes Spitler (1774-1837), 1800-1805. Yellow pine, chestnut, brass, iron, paint; courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
- Sugar basket by Asa Blansett (w. 1795-1838), c. 1795. Silver. Collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
Portrait of the Greer Family, Georgia, c. 1845. Oil on canvas; courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
- Library bookcase from Charleston, South Carolina, 1765 – 1780. Mahogany and cypress. Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; courtesy of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.