2022 | 2023 VOL 43 | 44

E-Mail   Print
A  A  A
Lewis Clephan: Painter and Portrait Artist of Washington, DC

Carolyn J. Weekley

The United States’ new capital city was an odd choice for a portrait painter at the end of the eighteenth century. While Boston and New York were centers of artistic training and activity, when Washington was founded in 1790 it was sometimes referred to as the “Mud Hole” and the “Wilderness City.”[1] Washington resident Marcia Burnes Van Ness went so far as to note that the city had “trails for streets that ran between surveyor’s stakes in the tobacco fields.”[2] Adding further color to early accounts of the city, in 1834, William Dunlap, an artist and chronicler of the arts and theater, republished exaggerated remarks by one writer who had described Washington at the end of the eighteenth century as “morass and forest, the abode of reptiles, wild beasts, and savages.”[3] A developing city bustling with building activity, Washington may not have been an artist’s dream locale, but it was … Continued

Research Note: Icons of American Memory? John Smith’s Maps of Virginia and New England

Cassandra Britt Farrell

John Smith’s maps of Virginia and New England have stood out as important pieces of colonial American history, particularly as they relate to their distinctive regions (Figure 1 and Figure 2). The maps were first published in 1612 and 1616, respectively. To European cultures, the representations of Powhatan’s village and Virginia’s Algonquin population on Smith’s map of Virginia became symbolic of America’s original inhabitants. Many mapmakers, map-sellers, and booksellers of the seventeenth century and thereafter liberally reproduced images found on the map. Smith’s map of Virginia’s Tidewater region was considered the seminal representation of the colony until John Senex published his map of Virginia in the late seventeenth century (Figure 3). Smith’s chart of New England’s coastline is likewise one of the foundational charts of that region’s cartography.[1] Smith’s map is the first time that “New England” was published in reference to lands north of Virginia. The map was used to promote … Continued

Peter Oliver: Revisiting and Reassessing the Life of a Moravian African American Potter

Geoff Hughes

A funeral was held in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina in the afternoon of 30 September 1810. The service marked the passing of an esteemed community member, Peter Oliver. Born into enslavement, Peter Oliver became a skilled craftsman and purchased his freedom. Much of the work he undertook to achieve emancipation took place in the pottery workshops of Salem and the nearby town of Bethabara, making him one of the only documented African American potters in the Moravian’s North Carolina communities (collectively known as Wachovia) (Figures 1 and 2). During his lifetime, Peter Oliver was accepted into Salem’s Moravian congregation as a communicant member, a significant achievement integral to securing his freedom. His funeral and the procession that followed were noteworthy in its multiracial character amid an increasingly segregated American South. According to church records, “a large number of Negroes attended, and they were given the front benches” … Continued

Thomas Chittum, Cabinetmaker, Lexington, Virginia: His Shop, Product, and Client Accounts, 1839–1852

J. Christian Kolbe

  The focus of this article is the 125 outstanding client accounts from 1839 to 1852 of Rockbridge County, Virginia, cabinetmaker Thomas G. Chittum. The client accounts are found in the 1855 Rockbridge County chancery court case John D. Camden vs. Thomas G. Chittum, Etc. The case has been digitized and may be accessed online through the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records Index.[1] This article will analyze the client accounts to understand Chittum’s furniture production, look at his connection with other craftsmen, and provide a list of customers. Analysis of the accounts will add to the relatively few published resources and contextualize the cabinetmaking business in this part of the Valley of Virginia (Figures 1 and 2).[2]   Early Life Before examining the client accounts it is necessary to understand Chittum’s career and the socioeconomic environment in which he worked. Thomas G. Chittum was born in 1805 in Goochland County, … Continued

© 2024 Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts