Label

After breathing his last on December 14, 1799, George Washington was buried four days later, in the old family tomb. Alexandria cabinetmakers Henry and Joseph Ingle built Washington’s coffin and leased a bier, coach, and horse for its conveyance. This bier is similar to that used in Washington’s funeral procession. Its pierced brackets and molded legs and rails resemble similar elements on fashionable chairs and tables of the day. When raised, the hinged shoulder rests enabled pallbearers to more comfortably transport the heavy burden it supported.

In his will, George Washington requested a private interment “without — parade, or funeral Oration.” Unable to let his death pass unhonored, his family members arranged a relatively modest funeral by the standards of the day. Alexandria cabinetmakers Henry and Joseph Ingle built Washington’s coffin and leased a bier, coach, and horse for its conveyance. This bier is similar to that used in Washington’s funeral procession. Its pierced brackets and molded legs and rails resemble similar elements on fashionable chairs and tables of the day. When raised, the hinged shoulder rests enabled pallbearers to more comfortably transport the heavy burden it supported.

Description

Brown painted or stained bier with collapsing arms on four square, tapered legs, molded on their front and beaded on their back corners with pierced knee brackets. The S-curved and shaped arms have circular arm terminals that are inscribed with a single line around the outer and inner faces. The side rails are molded on their outside faces (the sides of the arms are plain), and the ends of each are shaped to match the size of the arms. Several cross rails join the two principal side rails of the bier: a central rail pierced with an abstract eye or a circle within a pointed oval; four pairs of rails, in which the two rails facing the central rail are horizontally reeded on that face; two pairs of plain rails (one is missing on one set). Plugged slots testify to the original placement of a single medial rail at the ends of each side rail, just before the hinged arms. Each pair of legs is connected with a stretcher pierced with a central diamond flanked by elongated ovals and beaded on their top and bottom edges.

The arms are joined to the side rails with iron hinges screwed onto the underside of both. The legs are tenoned into the side rails and single-pegged. The stretchers are tenoned into the legs and nailed in place. The brackets are glued in place and screwed in at their bases. The outer three medial rails on each side are joined to the side rails with sliding dovetails, while the inner pairs with the reeded rail and the central rail simply slide into a rectilinear slot.

Date

1785-1800


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Walnut, paint, iron


Dimensions

Overall: 27 1/8 in. x 118 5/8 in. x 33 3/4 in. (68.9 cm x 301.31 cm x 85.73 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 2001


Object Number

W-4223


Colors (Beta)


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