Changing Styles: 300 Years of Virginia Art and Design
How should a politician be depicted in a portrait? In what pose should a woman of fashion be painted? What form should a chair or a silver cup take? The choices are limitless.
For centuries, artists and patrons have searched for the manner of visual expression—the style—that best suit their vision of themselves and their era. Artistic movements resulted that engulfed the various forms of expression—painting, sculpture, interior design, decoration, and architecture—and brought them into harmony with one another.
Styles tend to progress from—or react against—a preceding style.
Side Table, 1958, by Florence Knoll. (Gift of Reynolds Metals Company, VHS accession number: 2001.522.10.D)
Reynolds Metals Company filled the spaces of its acclaimed International Style executive office building in Richmond with furniture that repeated the simple geometry of its architecture. This table consists of an aluminum base and a marble top. The table is part of a collection of office furniture and accessories called the "Italic Style," manufactured by the General Fireproofing Company, and showcased in the 1958 Executive Offices of Reynolds Metals Company in Richmond.
Clothespress, after 1750. Unknown craftsman from the tidewater region of Virginia. (Bequest of Charlotte B. Coles, VHS accession number: 1957.13.A-B)
Made in Tidewater Virginia, possibly Gloucester County, this Chippendale-style cupboard dates to the second half of the 18th century. Made primarily of Caribbean walnut with some yellow pine, the wood is arranged in a geometric array of rectangles placed in symmetry. The term "press" was used to define any piece of case furniture with doors that opened to reveal storage space. The feet and base molding made from a single board, and the use of pegs on the doors, indicate the rural origin of this press.
Lane Cedar Chest, 1956, The Lane Company, Altavista, Virginia. (VHS accession number: 2004.123.A-D)
The Lane Company, which for decades had marketed traditional designs for its cedar chests, responded to the minimalist Danish design movement, known as mid-century modern, that became popular in the 1940s and 1950s. The design on the front of this chest features a "basketweave" pattern in the center formed from squares of wood veneer set so that the grain alternates. "Lande" is engraved across the top of the Aroma-Tight lock. Stamped on the bottom is "STYLE NO. 6071-02 / SERIAL NO. 652170." The serial number in reverse is the date of manufacture: July 12, 1956. All cedar chests made on the same day were stamped with the same serial number.