Visiting The National Gallery of Art

 

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The days immediately after Christmas are always a bit of a let-down.  All the preparations for the holidays are done and gone.

A visit to the National Gallery was called for, stat!!

There are many types of art housed here, but for now I will show you just a few of the fantastic pieces of furniture donated by the Kaufmans of Norfolk, Virginia.  Over 100 pieces of Americana are at the gallery.

Mr. Kaufman, who started the Guest Quarters hotel  chain, and his wife, daughter of a wealthy Virginia philanthropist, used these pieces of art daily in their home which was a replica of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.  The Hermitage is a Greek revival brick home with 13 rooms.  Here’s a photo from Wiki to show you what it looks like:

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I could picture the interior of the Kaufman’s tastefully decorated home with the beautiful pieces I was viewing.  They are placed around the rooms as if you are visiting their home.

(photos are mine, unless otherwise noted)

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This mahogany high chest of drawers is attributed to John Townsend in the late 1700’s.  He was one of the famed cabinetmakers from Newport, Rhode Island.  The most famous being those of the Townsend and Goddard families.

Newport craftmanship is easily recognizable by it’s block and shell motif.  By this we mean a block front topped by a carved shell.

Prominent city harbor areas seem to have given birth to the best furniture of this period:  Newport, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston.

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The style of furniture in the late 1700’s was referred to as Federal style.  It was after the Revolutionary War in America that we were beginning to decide our form of government and take shape as an independent nation.  

“It was a craft for a nation that was literally building itself by hand. ..it was America’s first art form.”  Astrid Riecken, The Washington Post

It was our version of the Neo-Classical Style which was popular in Europe at that time.  It is also known as Hepplewhite and/or Sheraton because of the two well-known craftsmen by these names.

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This desk is thought to be by Thomas Seymour of Boston.

 

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Sideboard by Mills and Deming, New York, ca 1793. Mahogany, satinwood, curly maple veneers, and brass.  The gallery states it’s believed to be the most elaborately decorated NY sideboards.

It was once owned by Oliver Wolcott, Jr., secretary of the Treasury under George Washington!  He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  I learn something new every day!

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