Delaware Dealer Sheds Light on Local Cabinetmakers

Slant Front Desk by James McDowell
Slant Front Desk by James McDowell

Like most regions in the American Colonies, Delaware had its own cabinetmakers. Today several museums in the state display examples of furniture produced in Delaware and occasionally new pieces surface at antique shows.

Gary Manlove, owner of Manlove’s Choice Antiques in Greenwood, Delaware has spent time in local museums studying Delaware cabinetmakers and even had the benefit of seeing a piece by a cabinetmaker named James McDowell disassembled.

“I’ve worked on a couple of McDowell’s pieces, and put one back together,” Manlove explains. “The opportunity provided real insight into how he worked. That insight can help in identifying other pieces.

“You also can tell a McDowell piece by its style,” Manlove adds. “He incorporated sheared corners, line inlay and often French-style feet.”

James McDowell established his business in Duck Creek (now Symerna) in 1785. He died in 1838. One example is a sideboard signed by McDowell first on display at the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts (Delaware Art Museum) in 1950.

Manlove has also spent time at the Reed House in New Castle, part of the Delaware Historical Society and the Biggs Museum in Dover, Delaware studying other examples of work by Delaware cabinetmakers.

Other prominent Delaware cabinetmakers include John JanVier and Thomas Stevenson, who worked with McDowell before relocating to Dover.

“JanVier was the foremost Cabinetmaker in Delaware,” Manlove says. “He built clock cases, chests and chairs.”

Manlove will be one of the dealers displaying at the All Saints’ Antiques Show in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware July 29-August 1, 2009 at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center.

Tickets to the July 29 preview party (6 p.m.- 8 p.m.) are $30, which offers unlimited attendance over the three-day show. The show will be open to the public from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30 and Friday, July 31 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, August 1. Admission is $7. More information is available at www.rehobothantiques.com.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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