Annapolis: A Center of Colonial Style
Before the Revolutionary War, Annapolis was a vibrant center of commerce and trade with a thriving circle of artisans including cabinetmakers, silversmiths, and carvers. Evidence of the skill and artistry of these craftsmen is found in the architecture of Annapolis’s finest 18th-century houses, as well as in furniture and decorative arts that survive in private and museum collections.
The most well-known Annapolis cabinetmaker, Scottish-born John Shaw, is documented to have returned to his native country at least twice between 1772 and 1775, bringing back with him the latest designs from Britain. His friend, Charles Willson Peale, is known to have painted Shaw’s portrait, although an image has never been found.
This photograph shows how a typical cabinetmaker’s shop would have appeared in the 18th century.