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Ronald L. Hurst
Peter Scott, Cabinetmaker of Williamsburg: A Reappraisal

American Furniture 2006

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

    Charles Bridges, John Custis IV, 1725. Oil on canvas. 36" x 27". (Courtesy, Washington-Custis-Lee Collection, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    John Wollaston, Daniel Parke Custis, 1757. Oil on canvas. 50" x 40". (Courtesy, Washington-Custis-Lee Collection, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.)

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    John Wollaston, Martha Dandridge Custis,1757. Oil on canvas. 50" x 40". (Courtesy, Washington-Custis-Lee Collection, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.)

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Charles Willson Peale, Washington as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment, 1772. Oil on canvas. 50 1/2" x 41 1/2". (Courtesy, Washington-Custis-Lee Collection, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.)

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Invoice from Peter Scott of Williamsburg, Virginia, to Daniel Parke Custis of New Kent County, Virginia, for work done in 1754 and 1755, dated June 9, 1756. (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Peter Scott, bureau dressing table, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1754. Mahogany with oak and yellow pine. H. 32 5/16", W. 35 3/4", D. 19 3/4". (Courtesy, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, Virginia; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The missing brackets flanking the prospect door were replaced by Colonial Williamsburg conservators and are based on both physical evidence and surviving examples of other bureau dressing tables by Scott. The reproduction drawer hardware mimics the size of the missing originals. Its design was taken from hardware on other case furniture attributed to Scott. The feet and door hardware are original.

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    John Gadsby Chapman, The Chamber of Washington in which He Died with All the Furniture as It Was at the Time—Drawn on the Spot by Permission of Mrs. John Washington of Mount Vernon, 1835. Oil on canvas. 21 9/16" x 29". (Courtesy, Homeland Foundation, Incorporated, Amenia, New York.)

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Bureau dressing table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1760. Mahogany with oak and yellow pine. H. 31 5/8", W. 36", D. 23 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The feet, top molding, and drawer hardware are recent restorations. The door hardware and one of the brackets are original.

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Bureau dressing table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1760. Mahogany with oak and yellow pine. H. 30 1/2", W. 36 1/4", D. 20 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens.) The hardware, brackets, and base molding are original; the feet are old replacements.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Detail of a drawer side from the bureau dressing table illustrated in fig. 6.

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Detail of a drawer bottom from the bureau dressing table illustrated in fig. 6.

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Detail of the dustboard construction on the bureau dressing table illustrated in fig. 8.

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Detail of a bracket foot on the bureau dressing table illustrated in fig. 6.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Detail of the original foot blocking on the bureau dressing table illustrated in fig. 6.

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Detail of a drawer bottom from the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in fig. 16.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1722–1730. Black walnut and black walnut crossbanding with oak and yellow pine. H. 82 3/4", W. 39 3/8", D. 24". (Courtesy, College of William and Mary, gift of Caroline Baytop Sinclair; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The feet, base molding, and drawer hardware are inaccurate modern replacements. The surbase molding was replaced by Colonial Williamsburg conservators. The escutcheons and iron knife hinges on the bookcase doors are original.

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Grace Coxed and Thomas Woster, desk-and-bookcase, London, England, 1719–1725. Burl maple and rosewood veneers with white metal inlays. Secondary woods and dimensions not recorded. (Adam Bowet and Laurie Lindey, “Labeled Furniture from the White Swan Workshop in St. Paul’s Churchyard [1711–35],” Furniture History 35 [2003]: fig. 15.) This piece bears the label used by the Coxed and Woster firm from 1719 to 1725. Its current location is unknown.

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1735–1745. Black walnut and black walnut crossbanding with oak and yellow pine. H. 83 3/4", W. 41 1/4", D. 24". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens.) The feet and the drawer escutcheons are original; the pulls are later replacements.

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Desk attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1755. Black walnut with oak and yellow pine. H. 42 1/2", W. 40", D. 20 7/8". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens.) The feet are largely original; the drawer pulls and escutcheons are old replacements.

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1755. Black walnut and mahogany crossbanding with oak and yellow pine. H. 84", W. 42 1/8", D. 24 1/2". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The front feet and the drawer hardware are original.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1765–1775. Cherry with oak and yellow pine. H. 83 3/8", W. 41", D. 24". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The feet and the drawer hardware are recent replacements based on physical evidence and surviving examples of other case pieces attributed to Scott.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Desk-and-bookcase attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1765–1775. Black walnut with yellow pine. H. 83", W. 41 3/4", D. 24 1/4". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens.) The drawer pulls and escutcheons are later replacements.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Desk and cabinet attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1750–1765. Black walnut with oak and yellow pine. H. 84 3/4", W. 40 1/2", D. 23 1/4". (Courtesy, Carlyle House Historic Park, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) In place of a standard bookcase, this desk is topped by a cabinet of small drawers behind paneled doors. The feet are partially restored; the hardware and cornice are recent replacements.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Tea table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1722–1730. Mahogany with oak and yellow pine. H. 26 3/4", W. 29", D. 19 3/8". (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The applied edge molding on the top is an early replacement.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Detail of the leg and foot on the tea table illustrated in fig. 24.

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Tea table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1730–1745. Black walnut. H. 25 3/16", W. 27", D. 20 1/16". (Private collection; photo, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens.) The top is an old replacement

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Tea table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1755. Mahogany with oak and yellow pine. H. 27 1/4", W. 29 5/8", D. 19 3/8". (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.)

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Detail of the leg and foot on the tea table illustrated in fig. 27.

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Sideboard table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1755. Black walnut with oak and yellow pine; marble top. H. 30", W. 44", D. 26". (Courtesy, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center.) The marble top is an old replacement.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Dining table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1722–1730. Mahogany with yellow pine and elm or hackberry. H. 28 3/4", W. 66 1/4", D. 71 1/4" (open). (Private collection; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) The table’s hinge rails are made of either elm or hackberry. These woods are seldom encountered in American furniture, but both were widely distributed through tidewater Virginia forests in the eighteenth century and both have many of the woodworking properties of oak.

  • Figure 31
    Figure 31

    Detail of the pin on the underside of the dining table illustrated in fig. 32. Ony the stub of the pin survives.

  • Figure 32
    Figure 32

    Dining table attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1745–1755. Black walnut with black walnut and yellow pine. H. 28 3/4", W. 60 3/4", D. 55 1/4" (open). (Courtesy, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 33
    Figure 33

    Thomas Hitchcock, spinet, London, England, ca. 1710. European walnut; unidentified conifer. Stand attributed to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1725–1735. Black walnut. Dimensions of spinet and stand: H. 33 1/8", W. 72", D. 26". (Courtesy, Botetourt County Historical Society; photo, Hans Lorenz.) The lid, an early replacement made of American black walnut, may also be the work of Peter Scott.

  • Figure 34
    Figure 34

    Ceremonial chair attributed in part to Peter Scott, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1730–1740. Black walnut with tulip poplar and yellow pine. H. 97 1/2", W. 39 5/16", D. 26 3/8". (Courtesy, Commonwealth of Virginia on long-term loan to Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; photo, Hans Lorenz.)

  • Figure 35
    Figure 35

    Detail of the writing compartment of the desk-and-bookcase illustrated in figure 18.