Published: April 14, 2016
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Freeman’s will offer deaccessioned furnishings from the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in its April 19 American furniture, folk and decorative arts auction, which coincides with the 2016 Philadelphia Antiques Show. Many pieces have important historical provenances and associations and were presented to Mount Vernon during the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century by a remarkable group of association members, including the wives and daughters of US congressmen, diplomats, jurists and poets. The proceeds from the sale will benefit Mount Vernon’s acquisitions fund.
The centerpiece of this collection is a pair of Chippendale mahogany tassel back side chairs made in Philadelphia, circa 1765. The chairs were originally owned by Justice Samuel Chase (1741–1811), a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Maryland and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. They were presented to the association in 1893 by Jean Margaret Davenport Lander (1829–1903), a philanthropist and one of the most famous actresses of her time, who purchased them directly from Chase’s granddaughter. Chairs from the same set are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in the US Department of State.
The 70-piece collection also features a variety of forms, including looking glasses, chests of drawers, bedsteads, tables and stands made from New England to Virginia. Regency strapwork iron benches that were used in Mount Vernon’s gardens throughout the Twentieth Century and a group of Colonial Revival comb back Windsor armchairs that have graced the mansion’s famous piazza since 1892 will also be sold.
Carol Borchert Cadou, senior vice president of historic preservation and collections at Mount Vernon, said, “The objects in this sale have played a variety of roles in Mount Vernon’s long preservation history, and we are grateful for the role they have rendered in educating millions of visitors about George Washington and life in early America. All of these pieces tell the story of continued efforts by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to present Washington’s residence in the most accurate fashion possible. While it was challenging to witness these pieces of history leave the estate, we look forward to the thought that they will no longer be in storage and will be brought to homes and collections where they can be enjoyed and appreciated.”
When the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association took possession of George and Martha Washington’s estate in 1858, only a handful of their original furnishings remained. To fill the empty rooms, the association board furnished the house with antique furniture that would make it look more like a home. As scholarship improved and more original objects returned to Mount Vernon, these early donations were replaced by more authentic representations of George and Martha’s possessions.
The collection is on view at Freeman’s headquarters at 1808 Chestnut Street. For information, 215-563-9275 or www.freemansauction.com.
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