Early this year, the museum acquired a unique desk, adorned with carved symbols that reflect plantation life in the Deep South. Images such as shovels, picks, and water buckets allude to the grueling work of field slaves, while wash boards, scissors, and tableware illustrate the tireless toils of domestic slaves. The creator, William Howard, was an emancipated slave from the Kirkwood Plantation, owned by William and Catherine McWillie. One of two known works attributed to Howard, this desk broadens the representation of arts made by Southern craftsmen and adds to our collection of works from the Civil War period.
Fall-Front Desk, c. 1870
American, Kirkwood Plantation, Madison County, Mississippi
William Howard (c. 1805–after 1870)
Southern yellow pine, salvaged crate wood, and varnish
The Elijah K. and Barbara A. Hubbard Decorative Arts Fund, The Evelyn Bonar Storrs Trust Fund, and The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund, 2012.2.1