Imaginative decoration and vibrant color transform simple wooden boards into a memorable example of American folk art. Standing a mere 9 inches on its sturdy legs, this small bench commands attention.
The seat's central motif features a scarlet flower resting against layered white and black circles with scalloped edging. Calligraphic hearts flank the design, while gilded borders define and complement the crimson seat. A leafy vine extends the length of the supporting structure. Construction and decoration suggest that the unidentified craftsman who made this bench probably worked in Pennsylvania in the mid-19th century.
This bench is part of the DAR Museum's Mount Walla Collection, named after a historic Virginia house thought to have been built by John Scott, whose extensive property holdings included Scott's Landing Ferry on the James River. (Peter Field Jefferson, grand-nephew of Thomas Jefferson, was among the home's later owners.) In 1966 Mildred C. Brown, a longtime Illinois collector and dealer of antiques and a member of the Albemarle DAR Chapter, Charlottesville, Va., purchased Mount Walla. At her death in 1984 she left her home and its furnishings to the chapter, which invited the DAR Museum to select historic objects for its permanent collection. These 304 objects donated in Mrs. Brown's memory comprise the Mount Walla Collection. The Albemarle Chapter continues to sponsor this important collection's conservation needs.