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Clothes Press (Kleiderschrank)

Formerly attributed to Peter Holl III (American, died 1825) Formerly attributed to Christian Huber (American, 1758–1820)

Pennsylvania-made Kleiderschranken (clothes presses) functioned, as did the earlier models in northern Europe, to hold hanging clothes and store cherished textiles. This schrank is notable for its extraordinary decoration—bold architectural paneling, carving, and lettering that records the name of its owner, Georg Huber of Manheim, Pennsylvania, and the date it was made, 1779, only a year before he married Barbara Oberholtzer. Rather than a lightwood inlay, the lettering and floral designs were made by pouring molten sulfur into channels carved in the walnut.

Swiss and German designs inspired the decorative motifs, many of which are commonly found on other Pennsylvania German furniture as well as ceramics and fraktur, and helped to connect the owners and makers to their cultural roots. The wardrobe’s monumental size, bold composition, and profuse ornament demonstrate not only Huber’s aesthetic taste and wealth but also the skills and sensibilities of the Germanic artisans who made it.

Object Details

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