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Dorothy Alexander Roush and Martha Thompson Dinos Galleries

Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft

Saturday, Dec 02, 2017 — Sunday, Feb 25, 2018

This exhibition gathered a range of early Georgia firearms and related accessories from both private collections and other museums. For example, it included a flintlock long rifle made ca. 1830 by Georgia gunsmith Wiley Grover Higgins and decorated with a gamecock motif. Like many of the decorative and applied arts in the state, gunsmithing in Georgia has been overlooked except by a devoted group of collector-scholars. As recently as 2017, a major collector of material culture in the mid-Atlantic referred publicly to the longrifle forms that were “made as far South as Charlotte, N.C.” The Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts attempts to identify and make accessible art forms that have received less attention in our region. Gunsmithing incorporated many crafts, such as silversmithing, casting and woodworking. Rifles represent the quintessence of craft in 19th-century Georgia, and the objects in this exhibition are some of the finest artistic achievements in the state at the time. The exhibition was on view during the ninth Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts (Feb. 1–3, 2018) and was accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue published by the museum (now out of print).


Sam Thomas, curator, T.R.R. Cobb House, and Dale Couch, curator of decorative arts


Community Foundation for Northern Virginia/the MOTSTA Fund, the Watson-Brown Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art