National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Painted Cabinet Painted Cabinet
Rendered by Carl Strehlau (artist), c. 1939
watercolor and pen and ink on paper
overall: 42.8 x 29.7 cm (16 7/8 x 11 11/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 79" high; 53 1/2" wide; 20 3/4" deep
Index of American Design
1943.8.8099
Not on View
From the Tour: Pennsylvania German Folk Art from the Index of American Design
Object 11 of 23

Pennsylvania German furniture is heavy and ornate, much like traditional German peasant styles. Because the Pennsylvania forests supplied an abundance of wood, there was never a shortage of materials. Furniture, like this kitchen cupboard, was often made for the dowry of a son or daughter. If the farmer was a skilled cabinetmaker he would make the piece himself, leaving the decoration to an itinerant journeyman. Decoration of furniture was done both freehand and by stenciling. This cupboard was made for Rebecca Braun in 1828. The bright red paint contrasts with the ivory-colored window frames and green trim. The circular geometrical shapes are similar to decorations often found on Pennsylvania German barns. The angels on the door panels were traced from designs on birth certificates of that time. Cupboards were used not only for storage of household utensils, but to display ornamental pottery and toleware as well.

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