RVA50 Object 3 “Dressing Table, circa 1760”

Dressing Table, circa 1760
Unidentified Cabinetmaker
Virginia or Mid-Atlantic
Walnut, pine and brass

Dating from the mid to late 18th century, this dressing table, commonly called a “lowboy” by early Richmonders and other colonists, was made for the Tayloe family of Virginia.  Originally used at the Tayloe plantation “Mt. Airy” in Richmond County, Virginia, the piece is representative of the preferred taste of the gentry consumer with minimal carving and embellishment.

A small dressing table with several drawers for storage, the lowboy was often made to match a tall chest of drawers or “highboy” and developed out of a 17th century British form.  The tobacco-based economy of 18th century Virginia saw leaf turned into consumer goods as hard currency was in short supply in the colonies and in the young United States of America.  Richmond area planter aristocrats used their cash crop funds to commission such pieces for their city residences as well as their plantation houses in the neighboring counties.

Gift of Mrs. Maxwell P. Harrington, 1987