An Heirloom Returns: The George Washington Plateau
Communications Officer Mandy Katz
The Tudor Place Dining Room is set to show how the plateau might have appeared
on a late-18th-century table. With its original seven sections, the mirrored set
could have added sparkle to a full banquet-length table at Mount Vernon.
|A Vermeer? No, this image shows Curator Erin Kuykendall examining an endpiece of
Tudor Place’s recently returned mahogany plateau before a south-facing window
in the mansion’s Dining Room, where the piece will be displayed through March 18.
Around these figures, the hosts would have displayed twinkling candles, gleaming silver candlesticks, and colorful flowers for a truly dramatic effect.
|This cut-glass salt cellar (left) and Sèvres sauce boat served on both
Washington and Peter family dining tables.
|The plateau’s edge, or “gallery,” needed extensive repairs.
(Plateau section on loan from Walter Gibson Peter III, a
descendant of Martha and Thomas Peter.)
|Replacement pieces were crafted, like the original, of mahogany.
|The mahogany insert was stained to match the original.|
Microscopic examination by Dr. Martha Case of the Herbarium of the College of William & Mary (WILLI) identified the loose seeds and grasses cushioning the two ends of the plateau as containing a species of Asteracea, or commonly found field daisies and sunflowers. These plants grow all over the world. Since the seeds ripen during the summer months, it is likely this practical, botanical packing material was collected and assembled into the plateau sometime in June, July or August.
|Detail of the seeds, plants, and animal frasse found
in the curved end section of the plateau.
|The plateau was still at the conservator’s studio when
Curator of Collections Erin Kuykendall came to Tudor Place
in August, so she is making the most of this first opportunity
to study it first-hand.
|Executive Director Leslie Buhler examines a
hand-made brass screw from the original piece.
|Curator Erin Kuykendall’s observations on the construction
and materials of the plateau will enter the object record for this piece
and add to our understanding of decorative arts in the Federal period.