Corner Cupboard

Ralph School

Area of Laurel, Delaware, 1800–30

Painted pine, tulip poplar

Gift of Sewell C. Biggs; 1992.91

The form of this corner cupboard is Germanic in origin, but the unique, geometric decoration appears more closely related to Welch-made furniture of the 1700s and 1800s. This cupboard was almost certainly stripped of its traditional Prussian blue paint with polychrome accents of white, yellow, red, and orange paint. Similarly constructed and decorated cupboards, dressers, and mantle surrounds are found exclusively in the area of western Sussex County, Delaware. Little is known of the Ralph family’s ethnic origins, however, immigration from Wales to Southeast Pennsylvania and Delaware began in the 1600s and continued throughout the 1800s. Members of the Ralph family who may have made these popular cabinets include Charles Thomas Ralph (1775–1845) and his sons, James English Ralph (1805–1849) and William Ralph (died 1859).