The earliest furniture that can be attributed w ith any assurance to W illiamsburg is a group related to the Speaker’s chair made for the Capitol and used there until the legislature moved to Richmond in 1780 (fig. 7). This group of furniture appears to belong principally to the decade of the 1730s.
The date of the Speaker’s chair has been the subject of considerable discussion. An early attribution of circa 1710 has been suggested, due largely to the survival of the 1703 note ordering that the hall of the I louse of Burgesses “be furnished with a large Armed Chair for the Speaker to sit in. . In recent years this was revised and the chair was re-dated to another extreme, circa 1753, owing largely to the rebuilding of the Capitol in that year after the disastrous fire of 1747... >
When Williamsburg became the capital of Virginia in 1699, it quickly assumed an important role in many phases of life there. As the capital of the wealthiest and most populated of the thirteen colonies, it served not only as a political focal point, hut as the dominant cultural center as well. From the very beginning it was inevitable that Williamsburg would influence taste throughout the Colony. The Capitol and the College were among the most remarkable examples of architecture of their time; British Royal Governors, who furnished the “Palace" in the most fashionable manner, set standards in style and taste that were emulated among leading Virginians... >
During the past two decades several people have influenced and contributed greatly to the development of the analytical and typological approach I have taken in this book. Although I never met the late Dr. Torsten Lcnk, his work The Flintlock: its origin and development has served as a monument of inspiration. Likewise, Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age by Joe Kinding, Jr. revealed the tremendous understanding that is possible when a detailed and intensive study is carried out on objects that w ere created under the dictates of function and style. John Bivins Jr. and William F. Muller have, by their incisive and discerning observations, also contributed to this methodology. Harold B. Gill Jr... >
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Eighteenth-century Williamsburg and its environs have been the subject for more than fifty years of one of the most intensive investigations ever conducted into a relatively small place over a comparatively short period of time. Researchers—architects, archaeologists, craftsmen, curators, to name but a few —have approached it from innumerable vantage points. Thus one might be excused for thinking, a few years ago, that little of major importance remained to be discovered about the colonial capital, and that attempts to improve our understanding of it would be rewarded more by lateral movements than by forward ones... >
This book is the culmination of a two-part project undertaken jointly by the Virginia Museum and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Beginning with the seminal concept—the need to underscore the importance of the decorative arts in American culture—and proceeding w ith the idea that an exhibition and catalog of the fine products of Virginia’s colonial cabinetmakers would best express that concept, Wallace B. Guslcr, Curator of Furniture at Colonial Williamsburg, w as invited to organize the exhibition and to prepare the catalog that would document the display.
With the expert guidance of the Museum’s development director, Paul B. Hood, and associate curator Frederick R. Brandt, financial implementation for the project was secured... >