View Larger Dressing box


American demand for exotic Chinese imports increased with the onset of direct trading between China and the United States in 1784. George and Martha Washington were particularly fond of lacquerware, acquiring dozens of pieces for themselves and as genteel presents for Mrs. Washington's granddaughters. One of the most fashionable forms was matching sets of dressing boxes. Their shaped bodies nestled against one another in an elegant pattern on top of a ladies' dressing table. Martha Washington may have used this example to store small items such as jewelry or hair pins.

See also dressing box, W-4387, dressing box, W-654, dressing boxes, W-640/A-D, dressing boxes, W-221/B-H, and dressing boxes W-543/A-D.


Shaped lacquer box with lid; meeting at a point, two undulating walls flare outwards and are joined by a third C-shaped wall; the box sides are embellished with flower buds, leaves and branches; the top of the lid features chamfered edges and is further adorned with a stylized flowering branch and bamboo shoot hand painted in gilt and red pigment; the top and bottom edge of the lid and base are lined in gilt.





Wood, lacquer, gilt


Other (lid): 3/8 in. x 3 3/4 in. x 3 1/16 in. (0.97 cm x 9.53 cm x 7.77 cm)
Other (base): 5/8 in. x 3 3/4 in. x 3 1/16 in. (1.6 cm x 9.53 cm x 7.77 cm)
Overall: 7/8 in. x 3 3/4 in. x 3 1/16 in. (2.24 cm x 9.53 cm x 7.77 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. W. Howell, 1886

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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