2012 has come to a close, and with it our Chamber furnishing project. It was a fun year, full of interesting finds and fascinating stories, but it is time to move on to other rooms at Kenmore, and their stories. As you may recall, our project for 2013 is the Dining Room, and in the coming weeks I’ll be filling you in on all that it entails, but in the meantime we want to share our latest acquisition with you!
This ca. 1770 walnut armchair was made right here in the Fredericksburg-Falmouth area, and has been attributed to the famed William Walker Jr. shop. Sometime in the 19th century, it was converted to a necessary chair (hence the hole in the center of the seat), but otherwise it has remained virtually untouched. Recent examination shows that remnants of the original upholstery and seat webbing are still attached. It is a fantastic, and rather rare, find and we are thrilled to bring this chair to Kenmore!
William Walker Jr. was the second generation of a family of cabinetmakers and builders who emigrated from Scotland to Virginia in the mid-18th century. Their work and profound influence on furniture and style in colonial Virginia has been the subject of new scholarship (American Furniture, 2006), and it has recently become apparent that Fredericksburg was actually a center of high quality craftsmanship. Many pieces once attributed to the shops of Williamsburg have been reattributed to the Walkers, as well as several other furniture makers who were making their presence known in this area. Fielding Lewis did not have to look far past his own neighborhood to find the kind of quality furnishings suitable for Kenmore.
The GWF collection already includes a very similar Walker armchair, with the trademark heart cut into the splat, that was collected in the 1930’s, before any connection to Fredericksburg furniture makers had been made. In addition, a set of six side chairs showing the heart cut-out exist in the collection, although their connection to any of the Walker shops is still unclear. All eight chairs will become part of the furnishings of the Dining Room, where we know that there were 15 walnut chairs in use during the Lewis years.
When Kenmore re-opens to the public on March 1st, we hope you will take the time to stop in and see our newest acquisition!