The Furniture of John Shearer
Like furniture painter Johannes Spitler, cabinetmaker John Shearer worked in the northern Valley of Virginia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today, his work is widely recognized among southern furniture enthusiasts. Shearer's highly individualistic style has prompted many observers to place his furniture outside American cabinetmaking norms. However, such assessments reflect the pervasive Anglocentric character of much American furniture connoisseurship that not only ignores Shearer's ethnic origins but also overlooks the culturally vibrant area in which he worked. Considered in a more balanced cultural context, Shearer's wares emerge as the logical expressions of a Scottish-born furniture maker initially working in the ethnically diverse Shenandoah Valley. His furniture informs modern observers about the maker's personal trade practices and also about the needs and desires of patrons in the backcountry.