Fine, decorative and applied arts from Historic New England’s 36 historically and architecturally significant properties will be displayed in the featured loan exhibition at the next Winter Antiques Show from January 22 to January 31, 2010 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
‘Colonial to Modern: A Century of Collecting at Historic New England,’ which celebrates the centennial of Historic New England, the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the United States, showcases some of the finest items from Historic New England’s collection of more than 110,000 objects. The exhibition is sponsored by Chubb Personal Insurance, which has sponsored the loan exhibition for 14 consecutive years.
Colonial to Modern features objects from the 18th to the 20th centuries, including furniture, paintings by academic and provincial artists, ceramics made in New England and abroad, and personal accessories from diamond brooches to silk brocade shoes. The emphasis is on superb objects with great stories, such as the Quincy family’s Boston-made Japanned high chest, which belonged to one of New England’s most influential families and is regarded as a tour de force of 18th-century furniture.
A series of lectures at the Winter Antiques Show will complement the exhibition. Topics explore different aspects of Historic New England, from the architecture of its properties to jewelry in its collection.
Highlights of the exhibition include:
● The Quincy family’s high chest, with decoration possibly by Robert Davis or Stephen Whiting, Boston, 1735-45, made of red maple, red oak and white pine. This high chest, richly decorated with pagodas and fanciful creatures in a technique known as “japanning,” was rescued twice from fires before 1770. It still resides in the Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts;
● A needlework picture, Boston, Massachusetts, 1745-1750, in wool on linen, with silk and glass beads. This exquisite needlework is the largest of a group of remarkable needlework scenes called “Fishing Lady” pictures. It descended in the Lowell family and hung at author James Russell Lowell’s house, Elmwood, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the nineteenth century;
● Shoes, Jonathan Hose and Son, London, circa 1770, in silk brocade. Buckles, probably Birmingham, England, 1770-78, are of colorless paste, silver and steel. These brocade shoes, like most shoes of the period, have no specific right or left shoes but were made to be interchangeable. Buckles could be set with diamonds for the wealthiest wearers, or, like these, made of paste. Prudence Jenkins wore these buckles at her wedding in 1778;
● Art pottery vase and bowl, Paul Revere Pottery, Boston, glazed stoneware, The vase is attributed to Lily Shapiro, 1915. The bowlis by Sarah Galner, 1917. This vase and bowl in the Arts and Crafts style are products of a remarkable experiment in social engineering, carried out by and for women. The Paul Revere Pottery was both a literary club for immigrant girls and a pottery studio that taught marketable skills and enabled them to earn a living;
● Wallpaper, probably designed by Joseph Laurent Malaine (1745-1809), probably printed by Hartmann, Risler and Cie (1795-1802), Rixhiem, France 1795-1802. Block-printed wove paper. Wallpapers were the wall finish of choice after the American Revolution. This example, from Massachusetts home, displays Medusa heads and Neo-Classical palmettes;
● Psyche, Hiram Powers (1805-1873), Florence, Italy, 1849. After he saw this bust in the artist’s studio in Italy, Nathaniel Hawthorne rhapsodized: “A light. . .seems to shine from the interior of the marble, and beam forth from the features.” Powers’ sculpture evoked classical ideals of female beauty and had great appeal in the nineteenth century;
● Sewing kit, England, 1765-90, silver. This silver fish conceals a utilitarian purpose: a small knife and scissors for sewing. It belonged to Abigail Quincy, patriot Josiah Quincy’s wife, and reflects both the useful work required of everyone in New England ― in this case an endless round of sewing and mending ― as well as the relative comfort in which Mrs. Quincy lived; (See next page for additional highlights of the exhibition)