This wardrobe is one of the finest pieces of furniture made in Texas during the 19th century. While the wardrobe form was relatively common in the central and eastern parts of the state, examples decorated with faux wood graining are extremely rare.
This piece features a variety of graining techniques. The door frames and sides of the case are striped to simulate rosewood, while the doors and drawers are painted to look as if they are covered in matching sheets of elaborately figured veneer. The pronounced cornice is spotted with paint to give the appearance of its being cut from burled wood.
From the 1820s on, Texas was settled by Europeans, Americans, and Mexicans of various heritages. The German immigrant population, however, had the largest impact on the region’s cabinetmaking. In central Texas, where this wardrobe was made, Germans produced virtually all the furniture from the 1840s until the 1880s, when the coming of the railway made possible the shipment of factory-made furniture from the Midwest. As seen in this example, much of the cabinetwork done in mid-19th-century Texas was in the late classical taste. The so-called German Biedermeier style was especially important and lingered in Texas long after it was passé in central Europe.