Published: April 20, 2021
ABINGDON, VA. – William King Museum of Art presents “Tennessee Fancy: Decorative Arts of Northeast Tennessee 1780-1940.” This exhibition takes a look at what made the decorative arts of Tennessee unique, and how style flourished across the state line. Known for a short time as the State of Franklin, the counties of Northeast Tennessee produced artists that created bold designs, from the cobalt and manganese glazes on pottery from Haun, Decker and Cain, to the highly patterned woods and ‘rope and tassel’ inlay of Greene County cabinetmakers. Woven coverlets and pieced quilts from the region have geometric patterns inspired by the traditions of those traveling along the Great Road to make a new home on the frontier, and itinerant artists came into the region to paint portraits for settlers, educating a new generation of painters in Tennessee. Although many of these painters remain unknown, William Harrison Scarborough and Samuel Shaver enjoyed successful careers creating portraits in Sullivan and Hawkins Counties.
The traditions and heritage of the early settlers in Tennessee began to develop into a unique decorative style as Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton cabinetry styles trickled in along the Great Road, and as German, English, Scottish and Irish immigrants pushed westward after the American Revolution. Throughout the Nineteenth Century, Tennessee’s style was cultivated by waves of settlers and pioneers expanding further west. They drove the market by seeking to fill their homes with functional pieces that also reflected their newfound prosperity and permanence. By the mid-Nineteenth Century, Tennessee had developed a style all its own, sometimes outstandingly decorative, sometimes oddly curious, but always…fancy.
“Tennessee Fancy: Decorative Arts of Northeast Tennessee,” sponsored by the Bank of Tennessee with additional support from Rea Charitable Trust and Massengill-DeFriece Foundation, will be on display through October 31, 2021 at the William King Museum of Art’s Cultural Heritage Gallery. Masks and social distancing required in building.
For information or to schedule a tour, call 276-628 5005 ext 113 or visit www.williamkingmuseum.org.
The Museum is open seven days a week: Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, 1 pm to 5 pm. Admission to the museum is free.
William King Museum of Art is at 415 Academy Drive, off West Main Street or Russell Road. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, William King Museum of Art is a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, a member of the Virginia Association of Museums, and is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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