A skilled work force made the Monticello plantation run. At various times Jefferson hired gardeners, a brewer, masons, smiths, joiners, carriage builders, charcoal burners, and weavers to teach their trades to enslaved men and women. From the age of ten, boys began work in a nail-making shop. Girls started work in a textile shop. Based on their performances, at age 16 they would learn a trade or go to work in the fields.
This object, made for Jefferson’s youngest granddaughter, shows some of Hemmings’s woodworking signatures: the way the shelves are attached to the sides of the cupboard, the double-bead molding on the shelves’ front edges, and the curved molding on the door frame.
Hanging cupboard made by John Hemmings, walnut and tulip poplar, ca. 1820. Thomas Jefferson Foundation