Point-to-Point’s Historic Landscape Part of Preservation Project at Winterthur

1803 Rumford Dawes Property Survey of land sale to John Hirron. Dawes retains the 14 acres in the NW corner marked “A”, which is just south of what is now the Winterthur main entrance.

1803 Rumford Dawes Property Survey of Land Sale to John Hirron. Dawes retains the 14 acres in the NW corner marked “A”, which is just south of what is now the Winterthur main entrance.

Every spring, on the first weekend of May, the fields of Winterthur along Kennett Pike are brought to life as people gather for the annual Point-to-Point steeplechase. The Point-to-Point fields on the Winterthur estate comprise rolling hills that tuck into the woodlands. Each year this ground is stirred with the excitement of tailgaters, foot traffic, and horses racing toward the finish line. What many who attend the Brandywine Valley’s signature spring event do not know is that the staff at Winterthur work meticulously after the event to return these grounds to their previous state; with strenuous yearly maintenance, the surface of the fields are once again made smooth and cultivated. With so much activity, however, one might think the landscape has changed from its pre-du Pont past. But a little-noticed object in the Winterthur collection proves otherwise.

On the 6th floor in the museum, in the Architect’s Room, behind a door, is an 1803 property survey for the sale of land of Rumford Dawes to John Hirron. The map shows land along a public road, some cleared, other parts marked with green lines indicating woodland, several streams, and only two buildings: a farm house and a spring house. At the bottom of the map is a block of text that describes the purchase and not only mentions the portion of land Dawes intended to keep for himself but also names the previous owner, William Clenny.

Originally, this map proved an important resource providing a definitive date when a particular farmhouse, now used to house visiting scholars, had not yet been built. But the map takes on deeper importance as the staff at Winterthur began to further access the information. The 1803 map provides insight into the land of the estate and the du Pont family’s stewardship of this land.

In 1834, Jacques Antoine Bidermann, son-in-law of E. I. du Pont, the DuPont Company’s founder, purchased the first tract of land that would become the estate and by 1839 constructed his house. Bidermann named the estate Winterthur after his ancestral home in Switzerland. The original Greek Revival–style home was transformed and added to throughout the years by generations of the du Pont family. The 175-room house we know today was the work of Winterthur’s last resident, American decorative arts collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969). In the almost two centuries of the estate’s existence, the property peaked at more than 2,500 acres; it currently sits around 1,000 acres of land, encompassing rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Although many visitors see the unparalleled museum collection of antiques and beautiful gardens, much of the estate is never seen. These unseen portions of the property consist of the numerous farms and lands purchased by several generations of du Pont, which, in many cases, still retain 19th-century landscaping and architecture—a true feat in an area known for large homes situated on sprawling private properties.

Tucked away from the constant adaption and renovations of the house and the exquisite care of the garden, the vernacular architecture of the 18th- and 19th-century farmhouses, barns, and landscaping remains relatively untouched. While lining up the areas of the 1803 property survey, we were struck with the similarity to the current landscape. The public road on the survey became the Kennett Turnpike in 1803, the lands passed through many hands as it was parceled and sold; but the major power players referenced on the 1803 map continued to appear in deeds and maps—the Wilsons, the Chandlers, and the Nichols; even the Greaves and later the Negendanks, whose homes and properties would later make up the Winterthur estate. Most importantly, the cleared land, tree lines, and the streams are almost the same as they were more than 200 years ago.

The Winterthur Garden Department carefully maps out countless layers to create different images of the estate. Using this system, the 1803 map was overlaid on a modern image.

The Winterthur Garden Department carefully maps out countless layers to create different images of the estate. Using this system, the 1803 map was overlaid on a modern image.

The Winterthur Garden Department is responsible for maintaining all the land on the estate, everything from the fields to the woods, from the “natural gardens” to the cultivated gardens. To keep track of the changes in the land over the years and all of the plants, the garden department has begun Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of the property. A new map was created using the points of the streams, most notably Clenny Run, and the trees, to overlay the 1803 property survey with a modern satellite image. The results were a closer match than anticipated!

The results of the comparison showed that the trees have retaken some land, particularly a cleared run leading to Farm Hill, and the streams north of the survey’s scope have been rerouted into ponds, but the lines remain mostly the same. Most of the areas of woodland regrowth are also located along steep inclines and less arable soil. Missing from the current landscape, though, are the only two buildings on the 1803 map—the Clenny Farmhouse and its springhouse. The area where these buildings once stood is now the view of the annual Point-to-Point steeplechase races, and any surface evidence has long since been lost. In a search for the Clenny farmhouse and springhouse, Winterthur, in partnership with the University of Delaware, plans to use ground-penetrating radar to search for subterranean anomalies that could indicate the buried remains of the two foundations.

The 1803 map has been used with several later property deeds in section A, which Dawes retains through the sale. This property, listed on the survey at “14 acres” was later sold to Irene Martin in 1831 on a deed with the description of “All of that lot of woodland situate on the Kennett Turnpike…containing about 14 acres be the same more or less.” The property markers that bound the land on the 1803 map are present on numerous subsequent deeds, and some last until present day. One still-existing property marker from the 1803 map is a Tulip Poplar in Magnolia Bend in the garden. This poplar was used as a marker point for the GIS compilation.

The 1803 map, tucked away behind a bedroom door in the museum, provides fascinating insights into the history of the estate. While many visitors may not see the significant value, the map—showing the land purchase in rural northern Delaware in 1803—has opened a new way to study the estate and the influences of the du Pont family on their surroundings. While some of land in the past was sold off to the surrounding country clubs, the state park, and residents of Greenville, most still remains protected and unchanged since the days H. F. du Pont used it as grazing area for his dairy herd. There are countless maps and surveys of the different transactions that ultimately led to the creation of the present-day Winterthur estate, and this project has opened the door to using each of those for a greater understanding of the land and its previous owners.

Point-to-Point at Winterthur. Photo by Jim Graham

Point-to-Point at Winterthur. Photo by Jim Graham

This year, if you’re planning to join us on May 3 at the 37th Annual Point-to-Point, take a moment to appreciate not just the thrill of professional steeplechase racing but also the beautiful landscape of the estate. You are looking at the same land features the Clennys and Dawes surveyed more than 200 years ago, and who knows, you may even be standing over the remains of their house.

For more information on the 37th Annual Point-to-Point, please visit winterthur.org/ptp. Tickets and tailgate parking spaces on sale now!

Post by Katie Forest, Historic Preservation Project Manager at Winterthur

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From All Points of the Compass: Ceramics Travel the World

The Four Quarters of the Globe, Derby Porcelain Works, England, 1762–65 Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2622.1-.4

The Four Quarters of the Globe, Derby Porcelain Works, England, 1762–65 Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2622.1-.4

This year’s Ceramics Conference at Winterthur, April 23–24, focuses on ceramics that were marketed internationally—from China to the United States to Mexico and beyond.

1958.2622.002Four ceramic figures from the Winterthur collection—the Four Quarters of the Globe, made by the Derby Porcelain Factory, Derby, England, about 1770—certainly may have appealed to an international audience of ceramics buyers, sellers, and collectors. The allegory of the four largest land masses was a popular theme in continental Europe and England at the time they were created. The four continents are each depicted as cherubic children standing on a floral-encrusted base, displaying the attributes and symbols of their individual continent.

Europe, the crowned queen of all continents, has an orb in her right hand and holds her left hand high. She may have once held a scepter in her left hand now lost. She is draped in royal robes and is surrounded by various objects of art and warfare, such as a helmet, a gavel, mathematical instruments, a cornucopia of grapes and fruits, a palette, books, and a bishop’s hat.

1958.2622.001 Figure, Asia, The Four Quarters of the GlobeAsia, the continent of exotic riches, is draped in flowered silks with a jeweled bodice. She wears a crown of leaves, fruits, and berries. In her left hand she holds berries; in her right hand is a vase from which flames arise, an incense burner. At Asia’s feet lies her symbolic animal, the camel.

Africa, considered the historic breadbasket of the Roman Republic, holds a cornucopia filled with wheat tips and flowers in her left arm and in her right palm grasps a lobster or crawfish. She wears a headdress of the hide of an elephant’s head and trunk and a coral necklace from the Mediterranean Sea. Africa stands with her left knee resting on her animal, the lion.

1958.2622.004America is displayed, wearing a feathered band around her head and a skirt lined with feathers. A quiver of arrows hangs at her waist from a band worn across her chest. The tail feathers of an arrow are held in her right hand, the arrow has been broken off, and a bow is cradled in her left arm. America is depicted standing, her foot resting on the back of her native beast, the alligator.

The original source for the Four Quarters of the Globe was Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia, the first modern book on the science of images. First published in Rome in 1593 without illustrations, a second edition was later published in 1603 with 684 concepts and 151 woodcuts. The emblem book drew on classical symbolism known from coins, ancient books, and sculpture to give substance to qualities such as virtues, vices, passions, and arts and sciences.

1958.2622.003 OverallThe Winterthur set of the Four Quarters of the Globe is one of three known to exist in the United States. The Birmingham Museum of Art and Colonial Williamsburg own the other two sets. The Winterthur set can be seen in the museum on the 4th floor in Blackwell Parlor.

Please join us for lectures presenting recent research by Winterthur staff and an international group of respected visiting scholars. Attend hands-on workshops offering up-close access to the unparalleled, world-renowned Winterthur collection.

For more information or to register, please visit winterthur.org/ceramicsconference.

Winterthur thanks the J. and H. Weldon Foundation, Inc., for its support of the Ceramics Conference.

Post by Hilary Seitz, Marketing & Communications Department

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The Adventures of Archibald Hamilton Rowan: Textile Manufacturer on the Banks of the Brandywine

Engraving of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, ca. 1821.

Engraving of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, ca. 1821.

In the summer of 1795, exiled Irishman Archibald Hamilton Rowan arrived in Philadelphia, his journey to America quite an extraordinary one. Born in 1751 into an Irish family of privilege, he was raised by his wealthy English grandfather and educated at Westminster and Cambridge. After leaving school without graduating, he then traveled the Continent for several years before settling in Ireland. He became active in politics as a member of the Society of United Irishman fighting for Parliamentary reform and other liberties. Rowan was arrested in 1792, fined £500, and sentenced to two years in jail for distributing a seditious paper calling for a restoration of Ireland’s constitution. His incarceration in Dublin’s Newgate Prison was by no means harsh, as he enjoyed visits from family and compatriots and home-cooked meals. Still chafing under prison rules, however, he bribed a jailer £100 to allow him to visit home, where he donned a disguise, climbed out a window, rode to a friend’s house, and sailed for France. Witnessing many horrors of the French Revolution during his short stay, he decided to try his luck in America.

Rowan’s stay in America started on a positive note. Feted as a patriot, a “deserving advocate of civil and religious freedom,” he made the acquaintance of social and political leaders such as Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin, John Dickinson, and Caesar A. Rodney, nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Despite his warm welcome, Rowan knew he would not permanently settle in America for he was “disgusted with the rough manners of the people” and unused to the extremes in temperature. However, he also acknowledged that the new country offered numerous economic advantages for anyone willing to work hard. Feeling he could “profit for the good of my family,” Rowan bought a calico printing business on Brandywine River’s south bank near Wilmington, Delaware, in March 1797.

One of four known textile examples produced at Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s calico-printing mill on the banks of the Brandywine, 1797–99. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1967.836.

One of four known textile examples produced at Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s  calico-printing mill on the banks of the Brandywine, 1797–99. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1967.836

Rowan’s choice of a business was a promising one; in the 1790s, colorful, affordable, washable printed cottons were in heavy demand. But external issues conspired against him. A year into operation, his business manager, William Aldred, proved incompetent, forcing Rowan to take on three new partners and keep the books himself. Orders declined during the deadly yellow fever epidemics in Philadelphia from 1797 through 1799. Furthermore, British traders threatened to call in debts of any American merchants selling domestic goods in their stores. With businesses depending on the extension of credit in a precarious new economy, American merchants caved into the pressure. The struggle of navigating shortages of skilled labor and hard currency with fluctuating trading practices proved devastating. By May 1799, Rowan announced in local newspapers the selling of his goods together or separately. Quaker merchant James Lea bought his inventory at half their value, leaving the equipment—coppers, blocks, calender, turning lathe, screw press, printing machine, tubs—and the mills’ frame buildings to be sold at auction. Desperate to end his unprofitable venture, Rowan advertised “any person inclining to sacrifice his property by carrying on this manufactory in America, may have the whole for one half the sum they cost and immediate possession of the premises.”

Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s scrapbook cover with label mistakenly stating designs are for wallpaper not textiles—understandable since the designs were printed on paper. Col. 50, 66x141, Joseph Downs Collection, Winterthur Library

Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s scrapbook cover with label mistakenly stating designs are for wallpaper not textiles—understandable since the designs were printed on paper. Col. 50, 66×141, Joseph Downs Collection, Winterthur Library

After a difficult five years in America, Rowan sailed for Hamburg in July 1800, where he reunited with his family and returned to Ireland three years later after finally securing a pardon from England. He remained involved in politics and fighting for civil and religious liberty until his death in 1834. Throughout his life, Rowan met leading figures of the day, including Benjamin Franklin, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Rowan’s autobiography, comprised of journal excerpts, letters to and from relatives and friends, and comments by his editor, was published in 1840, a record of his remarkable life.

From Rowan’s very brief career as a textile manufacturer, his scrapbook of designs for printed cottons has fortunately survived. The volume, covered in newspaper, contains more than 140 striped, geometric, and floral patterns made from wood block impressions on laid paper. The similarity to contemporaneous English designs is unsurprising since Rowan himself confessed to “pirating these patterns which seemed to sell best.” While clothing made from Rowan’s designs may not have lasted, his scrapbook functions as an invaluable visual archive of late 18th-century common dress fabrics.

Pages from Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s scrapbook showing the small repeats and stripes used in 1790s dress fabrics. Col. 50, 66x141, Joseph Downs Collection, Winterthur Library

Pages from Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s scrapbook showing the small repeats and stripes used in 1790s dress fabrics. Col. 50, 66×141, Joseph Downs Collection, Winterthur Library

To view Rowan’s scrapbook, visit the online collection of textile pattern books from the Winterthur Library manuscript collection here.

Post by Jeanne Solensky, Librarian, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

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Introducing a New Look for Winterthur—Inside and Out!

Crews are working around the exterior to finish up smaller projects now that the scaffolding is down

Crews are working around the exterior to finish up smaller projects now that the scaffolding is down

It is with great pleasure that Winterthur announces the yearlong house renovation is coming to a close!

More importantly, the ground-to-roofline scaffolding and green scrim around the exterior of Henry Francis du Pont’s former home is coming down! So far, crews removed the scaffolding and scrim from the back side of the building, and beginning this week a crane will remove the custom truss scaffolding bridging the Museum Conservatory. It is hoped that all of the scaffolding will be removed by the end of March.

Over the course of the yearlong renovation, 410 windows, 15 doors, and approximately 800 shutters were replaced; window frames were repaired and restored to their original color (now known as Hazy Sky); and gutters, downspouts, and chimneys were repaired in an effort to restore the iconic exterior to the architect’s original 1930s vision.

Photo by Bob Leitch

Photo by Bob Leitch

During the renovation, the former gray-tinted glass was replaced with a bronze-colored glass that brings a warm, welcoming glow to the interior spaces. From an exterior perspective as well, the Plexiglas® creates a more inviting feeling. The historic window frames, or mullions, are now visible from the exterior, whereas prior to the renovation, the window panes could not be seen, making the windows appear to be black holes. While many of the renovations are hard to notice, all were imperative in continuing the preservation of Winterthur and the world-renowned collection inside. One upgrade that has made the most noticeable difference inside and out is the installation of tinted glass, or Plexiglas®, in the windows.

The Plexiglas® serves a dual purpose. While it filters damaging UV and visible light that causes collection pieces to fade, yellow, and become brittle, at the same time it serves
du Pont’s goal of maintaining the atmosphere of a gentleman’s private residence.

We thank you for your patience this last year and hope you take the time to explore the beauty of Winterthur—inside and out— this spring! To plan your visit, please visit winterthur.org.

Post by Hilary Seitz, Marketing Communication Department

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New York Furniture and Its Diverse Beginnings

This high chest, though English in form, incorporated both Dutch and French design elements, exemplifying the significant impact that cultural diversity had on furniture craftsmanship in New York. Samuel Clement, high chest of drawers, red gum, red cedar, tulip-poplar, sumac, brass, Flushing, Long Island, N.Y., 1726. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1957.0512

This high chest, though English in form, incorporated both Dutch and French design elements, exemplifying the significant impact that cultural diversity had on furniture craftsmanship in New York. Samuel Clement, high chest of drawers, red gum, red cedar, tulip-poplar, sumac, brass, Flushing, Long Island, N.Y., 1726. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1957.0512

Settled by the Dutch and claimed by the English, New York, from the start, was “a Babel of peoples—Norwegians, Germans, Italians, Jews, Africans . . . Walloons, Bohemians, Munsees, Montauks, Mohawks, and many others,” writes author Russell Shorto. This early diversity and the blending of so many cultural influences inspired a rich variety and legacy in New York cabinetmaking evident in Winterthur Museum’s holdings of furniture made in the Empire State between 1650 and 1850. Opening in the Winterthur Galleries on March 1, the exhibition Cultivating Style in a Multiethnic World: New York Furniture, 1650–1850, features a selection of objects from the collection, including works by renowned cabinetmakers Duncan Phyfe and Charles-Honoré Lannuier—objects that will tell the story of the state’s development from modest beginnings to the epicenter of furniture production in the United States by the 1850s.

Also forthcoming is the 2015 Sewell C. Biggs Winterthur Furniture Forum: From New Netherland to Empire State: New York Furniture, March 4–7, 2015, which will feature curators, conservators, historians, and decorative arts consultants who will explore how the furniture of New York reflected the colony’s early cultural diversity and subsequent mercantile and industrial development.

Introducing the contextual basis of the related above-mentioned exhibition is Russell Shorto, author of the national bestseller, The Island at the Center of the World. In The Wendy A. Cooper Furniture Forum Lecture: “Island at the Center of the World,” Shorto will share the story of New Netherlands and give a glimpse into an early America that many of us were not taught in history class.

Other speakers in the terrific lineup at this year’s Furniture Forum will share how the furniture and interiors of New York demonstrate this rich diversity with elaborate Dutch-inspired turnings, solid English construction methods, French sculptural carving, and Germanic painted decoration.

Here is a sneak-peek at three objects featured in the exhibition and at the forum, where Winterthur curators and conservators will give share insights and in-depth studies. You can consider each of them more closely while they are on display in the Galleries.

Kas, red oak, white oak, chestnut, white pine; walnut, red cedar, sumac inlay. Merrick, Long Island, New York, 1650–1700. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1952.0049

Kas, red oak, white oak, chestnut, white pine; walnut, red cedar, sumac inlay. Merrick, Long Island, New York, 1650–1700. Gift of Henry Francis du Pont 1952.0049

Henry Francis du Pont acquired a kas from the Merrick, Long Island, estate of Dr. George Mott Hewlett in 1952. This piece was taken apart and reassembled when it arrived at Winterthur and has been in the Oyster Bay Room here since it arrived. For the first time since its installation 63 years ago, in preparation for this exhibition, it has been disassembled for study and conservation, allowing the Winterthur staff to examine the back and the underside more closely.

As evidence of the multicultural influences in New York at this time, the kas, which is much like a modern-day armoire, was a form popular in the Netherlands, and its Dutch colonies, as well as in Germany; however, in England and the English colonies, it was never popular.

David Coutant/Coutong (1748–1829,) side chair, maple, ash, rush. New York, New York or New Rochelle, 1700–1800. Gift of the Wunsch Americana Foundation, Inc., 1952.0049

David Coutant/Coutong (1748–1829,) side chair, maple, ash, rush. New York, New York or New Rochelle, 1700–1800. Gift of the Wunsch Americana Foundation, Inc., 1952.0049

An example of a form commonly referred to as the “Hudson River Valley chair,” this side chair was made by David Coutant (Coutong), who most likely apprenticed with his father, Huguenot chairmaker Jacob Coutant (1722–1794). While these chairs were first made in New York City, where Coutant worked, and in the Hudson Valley, they reflect a hybrid aesthetic combining English and Dutch elements. This particular form became popular in the 1740s, was copied by chairmakers in Long Island and on the Connecticut coast (where they were called “York chairs”), and remained in production until the 1830s.

Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779–1819), work table, mahogany; mahogany, maple, rosewood veneer; white pine, tulip-poplar, gilded brass, die-stamped brass borders. New York, New York, probably 1817. Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Francis du Pont. 1960.0006.

Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779–1819), work table, mahogany; mahogany, maple, rosewood veneer; white pine, tulip-poplar, gilded brass, die-stamped brass borders. New York, New York, probably 1817. Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Francis du Pont. 1960.0006.

This work table was made by French ébéniste (cabinetmaker) Charles-Honoré Lannuier, who trained in Paris and specialized in expensive, fashion-forward veneered furniture. It shows evidence of yet another cultural influence in New York furniture. Lannuier emphasized his French background in his marketing to reinforce the perception of sophistication, and his high-quality workmanship earned him a place among New York’s fashionable cabinetmakers, attracting clients as far as the American South and the Caribbean.

Join us March 4–7, 2015, at the 2015 Sewell C. Biggs Winterthur Furniture Forum: From New Netherland to Empire State: New York Furniture, for the opportunity to learn more about each of these and more objects as well as optional tours and workshops available during the conference. Call 800.448.3883 or visit winterthur.org/furnitureforum to register or learn more.

Cultivating Style in a Multiethnic World: New York Furniture, 1640–1860 was organized by Joshua W. Lane, Lois F. and Henry S. McNeil Curator of Furniture at Winterthur. A book of the same name, also by Lane, will be available in the Winterthur Bookstore as of March 1.

If you are interested in learning more about Russell Shorto’s book, The Island at the Center of the World, which The New York Times proclaimed would “permanently alter the way we regard our collective past,” read the interview with Russell Shorto on the Random House website or visit Shorto’s website.

And look for more information to come on our website on the Winterthur exhibition, Cultivating Style in a Multiethnic World: New York Furniture, 1640–1860.

Post by Kim Collison, Department of Museum Affairs

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French Fashions on Paper: Advertising the Coiffure in 18th-Century Paris

1778 fashion plate from Galerie des Modes depicting a grander style of dress and a tall pouf with laurel leaves symbolizing a victory.

1778 fashion plate from Galerie des Modes depicting a grander style of dress and a tall pouf with laurel leaves symbolizing a victory.

Among the numerous items in the library’s Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys is a gorgeously hand-painted French set of paper cards from the late 1780s not intended as a children’s plaything but rather as an advertisement for coiffures – the French word for both hairstyles and headdresses. The set consists of four drawings of heads framed in medallions, reminiscent of portrait miniatures, and twelve different fashion changes, all delicately rendered in watercolor. Included is a diminutive slipcase measuring 3 3/8” high x 2 ¾” wide that housed the set. The fashion cards show the creations of Denis-Antoine of Paris, as stated on the partial label reading: “Se vend dans la même/A Paris/Chez-Denis-Antoin/rue S. Jacques, vis-à-vis/à S. Ambroise,” which roughly translates to: “Sells in the same/in Paris/at the shop of Denis-Antoine/rue St. Jacques, opposite/St. Ambroise.”

Col121_73x319-2_1

Collection 121, 73×319.2, Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys.

Although particulars of Denis-Antoine are unknown, the label provides us with his store’s location in the left bank’s 5th arrondissement just south of the Ile de la Cité, home to the city’s luxury fashion trade. By the 1780s, Paris, while only the third largest city in Europe with a population of approximately 650,000, was nevertheless its undisputed fashion capital. Its reigning fashion icon, Queen Marie Antoinette, with her ever-changing styles featured in numerous prints, inspired clothing trends at a dizzying pace. To keep up with Parisians’ demand to follow these trends, an extensive network of clothing and textile trades and services spread throughout the city, with the area around the Palais Royal and the busy thoroughfares of Rue Saint-Denis and Rue Saint-Honoré just across the Seine as its nexus. Most nobility gravitated to the Rue Saint-Honoré, where the queen’s personal marchande de modes (fashion merchant), Rose Bertin operated her store. Denis-Antoine’s shop may not have been located in the center of the fashion district or connected to the highest ranks of aristocracy, but the styles on the cards were clearly intended for clientele that could afford to spend both time and money on their coiffures.

Collection 121, 73x319.2, Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys.

Collection 121, 73×319.2, Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys.

And what hairstyles they were! Elaborate though they seem, the 1780s coiffures were toned-down versions of the towering poufs of the previous decade. Sometimes reaching three feet high, those poufs were built on foundations made of wire, cloth, and gauze augmented with horse hair and animal hair and could stay undisturbed for weeks. The most outrageous poufs were wildly accessorized with windmills, ships, and even entire garden scenes, some with sociopolitical meanings, some merely fanciful. When Marie Antoinette began to lose her hair during her second pregnancy in 1781, her hairstyles became less complicated as did her costumes reflecting her more informal style. Concurrently, more casual English fashions became popular aided by cheaper importation of their fabrics and France’s increasingly precarious economic situation. Lighter fabrics and less ornamentation helped to characterize this fad known as the l’Anglaise style. Even though Denis-Antoine was not selling clothing, the cards show this more modest attire with pastel-colored gowns simply decorated with gauze handkerchiefs, ruffles, and bows around the necks and bodices. No longer ridiculously tall, the hairstyles on the cards were still teased somewhat high with curls framing the face and topped with millinery creations adorned with feathers, bows, flowers, beads, and ribbons. A notable difference is unpowdered hair or wigs, a reaction to the many poor harvests and wheat shortages during the decade.

Col121_73x319-2_case-front-back

Also on trend was Denis-Antoine’s use of paper to advertise his services. In previous centuries dolls of all sizes circulated through the royal courts of Europe to announce the latest styles to a select few and later to shoppers in store windows. With increasingly cheaper production costs, paper became the preferred medium by the late 1700s for disseminating the latest fashions to wider audiences, through fashion plates printed singly, in series, or in magazines. The newly created fashion press kicked into high gear with several periodicals chock full of fashion plates offering guidance to Parisians in dressing in vogue. Considered the first fashion magazine, Galerie des Modes et des Costumes Français was published from 1778 to 1787 by print sellers Esnauts and Rapilly on the Rue St. Jacques. The Cabinet des Modes, the next popular and influential magazine, quickly followed under a series of titles between 1785 and 1794.

Engraving of Marie Antoinette dressed in informal attire in the mid-1780s. Reminiscent of Vigée Le Brun’s 1783 painting. 1967.2376.

Engraving of Marie Antoinette dressed in informal attire in the mid-1780s. Reminiscent of Vigée Le Brun’s 1783 painting. 1967.2376.

Much remains unknown about Denis-Antoine, his status within the city’s fashion hierarchy, and his fate in the troublesome times ahead. Did he survive the French Revolution, flee Paris to thrive elsewhere (as did Rose Bertin who later opened a shop for émigrés in London), or switch professions? Did Denis-Antoine design the cards himself or hire an artist who also created fashion plates for the magazine Galerie des Modes, published on the same street as his shop? Despite the mysteries, this extremely rare set of fashion plates is not only a true work of art but also an important window into fashion history during the waning days of the ancient régime.

 

 

Post by Jeanne Solensky, Librarian, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Further reading:

Madeliene Delpierre, translated by Caroline Beamish, Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 1997.

Caroline Weber, Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2006.

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The Beauty of It All! Antiques Take Center Stage at the Winter Antiques Show

Needlework picture (Appliqué quilt center), Sarah Furman Warner Williams, New York, 1800–1820. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1959.1497

Needlework picture (Appliqué quilt center), Sarah Furman Warner Williams, New York, 1800–1820. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1959.1497

 

 

The 61st Annual Winter Antiques Show kicked off on January 23. The show at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City showcases 73 renowned exhibitors specializing in Americana, English, European, and Asian fine and decorative arts, from antiquity through the 1960s.

Not to miss a moment of the action, Winterthur curators as well as members of the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle descended on the opening of the show. Winterthur Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass Leslie Grigsby, recounted, “As always, there was quite a crowd assembled, to view beautiful objects, from ancient marble sculptures to art deco architectural elements to modern folk art.”

Pastel (Portait), William Joesph Williams, New York, 1781. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1957.1143

Pastel (Portait), William Joesph Williams, New York, 1781. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1957.1143

Linda Eaton, John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles at Winterthur, observed many extraordinary pieces at the show. One such object, an appliqué panel, caught her attention because of the connection to Winterthur. The panel was once the center of a pieced bedcover made by Sarah Furman Warner Williams. It has the same imagery as another one made by her that is in the Winterthur collection. Sarah Furman Warner Williams is known to have made two full appliqué bedcovers—one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the other at the Henry Ford Museum (sadly it was damaged in a fire in 1970)—as well as the two panels in the Winterthur collection. Winterthur also has a pastel portrait of Sarah Furman Warner Williams when she was a young girl, about ten years old.

“…the appliquéd work made by Sarah Furman Warner Williams are of a quality rarely seen in early nineteenth-century American textiles. The woman who made them possessed a keenly original imagination and was a craftsperson of the highest order.” Amelia Peck: American Quilts & Coverlets in The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Needlework picture (Appliqué quilt center), Sarah Furman Warner Williams, New York, 1800–1820. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1959.1496

Needlework picture (Appliqué quilt center), Sarah Furman Warner Williams, New York, 1800–1820.                         Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1959.1496

 

Eaton also noted the beautiful objects on display in this year’s Winter Antiques Show loan exhibition, Ahead of the Curve: The Newark Museum, 1909–2015. The Newark Museum’s collection is vast and diverse, on par with the museum’s mission to be at the forefront of collecting and exhibiting. Ulysses Grant Dietz, chief curator and curator of Decorative Arts, and graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, commented to Visual Arts Today:

“The Newark Museum was one of the first to acquire an oil painting by Ernest Lawson [1910], the first to exhibit folk art [1930], and the first to give a one-man show to a living American artist, Max Weberin [1913].”

The 2015 Winter Antiques Show runs through February 1. For more information, visit winterantiquesshow.com.

Post by Hilary Seitz, Marketing & Communications Department

Amelia Peck, American Quilts & Coverlets in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Dutton Studio Books, New York, 1990.

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Letters from Jackie: A Personal Piece of Camelot

Jacqueline Kennedy, H F du Pont, and chauffeur Dana Taylor

Jacqueline Kennedy, H. F. du Pont, and chauffeur Dana Taylor

Last week dozens of handwritten letters by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sold at auction in Palm Beach, Florida, for a total of $28,400. The letters were personal correspondence and thank you notes by the former First Lady to her interior designer, Richard Keith Langham, and to Bill Hamilton, then the design director at Carolina Herrera.

The auction comprised 20 lots of personal letters as well as photographs. One item in particular fetched the highest bid, $4,575—a book about Kennedy’s restoration of the White House, which she signed for Langham. “What fun it would have been to work with you then,” she wrote in an accompanying note on her signature blue stationery.

Jacqueline Kennedy (seated, left) and H. F. du Pont (standing fourth from right), along with members of the Paintings Committee of the Fine Arts Committee, December 1961.

Jacqueline Kennedy (seated, left) and H. F. du Pont (standing fourth from right), along with members of the Paintings Committee of the Fine Arts Committee, December 1961.

One man who was fortunate to work with Mrs. Kennedy on the White House restoration was Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont. In 1961, Kennedy invited du Pont to chair the Fine Arts Committee, a group of twelve influential design leaders brought together to inform and lend expertise to her efforts to refurbish the White House’s state rooms in the authentic furnishings and character of its founders. The First Lady felt that du Pont, as a well-connected collector of Americana, could help acquire antiques from donors and add more sophistication to the project. Once word of the project spread throughout the country, letters poured into du Pont with offers to donate or sell prized possessions to the White House.

IMG_1562_JK TelegramOn May 8, 1961, Kennedy visited Winterthur for the first time for lunch and a tour. Accompanied by a small party, she toured the estate and grounds with du Pont and then–museum curator John Sweeney, who was appointed by du Pont to the Advisory Committee formed to help counsel the Fine Arts Committee. Part of du Pont’s drive to bring Kennedy to Winterthur was to have her experience first hand his affection for American decorative arts and furniture.

“I have a feeling that her real interest is in French things,” Sweeney recalled du Pont saying. “She doesn’t believe that you can have a really swell house with American furniture, and I want her to see that you can.”

The next day, Mr. and Mrs. du Pont received a handwritten note from Mrs. Kennedy on her blue stationery, in which she shared her thoughts on her visit:

“…how could anyone ever express the impression it [the museum and gardens] leaves—All I can say is I will never recover from it—or forget one tiny detail—I just can’t believe that it was possible for anyone to ever do such a thing—Mr. du Pont you now have me in such a state of awe and reverence I may never be able to write you a letter again!”

Layout 1That was a bit of an understatement on the part of the First Lady. Over the course of the next two and a half years, du Pont and Kennedy exchanged hundreds of letters, which are now housed in the Winterthur Archives.

Du Pont was flattered and charmed to be working with Mrs. Kennedy, a sentiment she shared. “It is marvelous that this country can produce someone like the astronaut but I think it is much more awesome to have someone like you,” she wrote in the same letter following her first visit to Winterthur.

IMG_1545_HF LetterRuth Lord, du Pont’s youngest daughter, wrote in her book Henry F. du Pont and Winterthur: A Daughter’s Portrait, “My father’s relationship with the First Lady remained harmonious until its abrupt ending with the assassination. They were a good team and had much in common: good taste, standards of excellence, a respect for privacy and confidentiality, and a dislike of publicity.”

Du Pont’s involvement in the restoration project initiated a long-standing relationship between Winterthur and the White House. Both du Pont and Sweeney continued to work with the White House during the Johnson years, and Winterthur staff and graduates from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture have served on the White House Fine Arts Committee, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, and the White House curatorial staff.

IMG_1565_JK LetterPost by Hilary Seitz, Marketing Communications Department

For more information on the Palm Beach Modern Auction, http://news.yahoo.com/notes-photos-jacqueline-onassis-auctioned-28-400-223541915.html

Ruth Lord, Henry F. du Pont and Winterthur: A Daughter’s Portrait. Forward by R. W. B. Lewis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

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Craft & Commerce in the Early Delaware River Valley

The Delaware River flows 419 miles south from its source in the Catskill Mountains of New York to the Delaware Bay, just north of Cape May, New Jersey. A 1757 map by Thomas Kitchin illustrates the interconnectedness of the landscape that 17thand 18th-century settlers to the area experienced. Abundant natural resources and navigable rivers made the colony of West New Jersey (founded 1676) a destination for many. The waterways were an integral part of New Jersey’s successful timber trade and provided the means for its craftsman to be mobile within, and between, colonies in the Delaware River Valley.

Flanking the cartouche on Kitchin’s map are tall trees with high canopies, an allusion to the abundant stands of hard pine, Atlantic white cedar, oak, and chestnut that were early transatlantic commodities. A 1698 tract describing the conditions of the colony cited “a great plenty of working timber, as oaks, ash, chestnuts, pine, cedar, walnut, poplar, fir, and masts for ships, with pitch and pine resin, of great use and much benefit.” In particular, cedar’s low density and rot-resistance were beneficial for maritime uses and also made it a favored wood in house carpentry for structural timbers and roof shingles.¹

Thomas Kitchin, A MAP OF/ MARYLAND/ with the/ DELAWARE/ COUNTIES/ and the Southern Part of/ NEW JERSEY/ &c, 1757. Winterthur Museum purchase 1982.309

Thomas Kitchin, A MAP OF/ MARYLAND/ with the/ DELAWARE/ COUNTIES/ and the Southern Part of/ NEW JERSEY/
&c, 1757. Winterthur Museum purchase 1982.309

Collectors of early furniture made in the Delaware River Valley recognize the pale, straw color cedar boards used as drawer bottoms in case pieces made from the late 17th century onward. Gabriel Thomas’s 1698 account of West New Jersey enumerates cedars among the species exported to Philadelphia: “Timber-River, alias Glocester River, which hath its name (also) from the great quantity of curious Timber, which they send in great float to Philadelphia, . . . as Oaks, Pines, Chestnut, Ash, and Cedars.” Cedar transported to Philadelphia was then reexported westward to Chester County and appears in the 1737 inventory of cabinetmaker Joseph Hibberd, which lists “some split ceder for dray or bottomes,” contradicting the belief that only Philadelphia cabinetmakers used cedar for such purposes.²

Inland waterways as well as social and religious networks help account for the movements of two early Quaker craftsmen—William Beake(s) III and Seth Pancoast, a joiner and cabinetmaker—who sought economic prosperity on both sides of the Delaware River.

William Beake III, chest of drawers, walnut, ca. 1715. Rocky Hill Collection

William Beake III, chest of drawers, walnut, ca. 1715. Rocky Hill Collection

William Beake III (1696–1761), born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to the son of a yeoman and member of the Society of Friends, trained in Philadelphia under joiner William Till, who died in 1711, the year Beake’s apprenticeship likely concluded. The joined chest of drawers signed by Beake is one of three nearly identical chests from his hand, made possibly during his time in Philadelphia or after he relocated to New Jersey. By 1748 Beake was a permanent resident of Monmouth County and was among a list of the colony’s freeholders. In his will, recorded in Upper Freehold in 1761, he identified himself as a joiner, indicating continued activity in the trade, unlike so many craftsmen who became yeoman and retired from their physically demanding craft earlier in life.³

Seth Pancoast, high chest of drawers, figured maple, 1766. Winterthur Museum, promised gift of John J. Snyder, Jr. L2010.1042.1

Seth Pancoast, high chest of drawers, figured maple, 1766. Winterthur
Museum, promised gift of John J. Snyder, Jr. L2010.1042.1

Seth Pancoast (b. 1718), the cabinetmaker whose signed high chest of drawers dates to 1766 and to whom a companion dressing table also in figured maple is attributed, came from a family of carpenters. His grandfather, John (Panckhurst), emigrated from Northampton, England, to Mansfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, in 1680. Upon his death, John willed his “carpentures tools” to sons William (Seth’s father) and Joseph.4 It is possible that Seth apprenticed in Mansfield or  Burlington or in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with his eldest brother, William, who had married Mary Copeland in 1730 under the oversight of the Chester Friends Meeting. Seth no doubt was successful in the Marple Township area (now Delaware County), where he settled after marrying Esther Coppock in Chester County in 1741. His refined pieces certainly are the work of a practiced hand.

The definitive reasons for the movements of these Delaware River Valley artisans are not known, but it is probable that economic promise drove them while their social and religious networks made their relocation possible. Their accomplished work helps illustrate the skill of craftsmen practicing their trade outside the urban center of Philadelphia and reminds us that hundreds more did so successfully—their furniture and stories still waiting to be discovered.

Post by Jackie Killian, a 2014 graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, is the Sewell C. Biggs Curatorial Fellow at Winterthur.

1 Gabriel Thomas, “An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of West-New-Jersey in America, 1698,” in Original Narratives of Early American History: Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630–1707, ed. Albert Cook Myers (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1912), 349. For more on the early use of cedar shingles, see Theodore Maisch, “Episodes in the Lumber Industry,” Southern Lumberman 136, no. 1760 (July 15, 1929): 64–65.

2 Thomas, “Historical Account,” 350. Joseph Hibberd, 1737, Inventory #609, Chester County Archives. My thanks to Lisa Minardi for providing a copy of this document.

3 I am grateful to Christopher Storb for sharing his knowledge of Beake’s life and apprenticeship. The three Beake chests are in private hands, including one in the collection of the Dietrich American Foundation.

4 For more on Seth Pancoast and the Pancoast family, see Wendy A. Cooper and Lisa Minardi, Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850 (Winterthur, Del.: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, 2011), 122–23; and Bennett S. Pancoast, The Pancoast Family in America (Woodbury, N.J.: Gloucester County Historical Society, 1981), 1–27.

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Presidential Porcelain from Washington to Winterthur

Dinnerware with emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati. Jingdezhen, China; about 1784. Hard paste porcelain. 1963.700.28 and .57 A-C

Dinnerware with emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati. Jingdezhen, China; about 1784. Hard paste porcelain. 1963.700.28 and .57 A-C

The Winterthur collection is generally recognized as the premier collection of American decorative arts in the world. Winterthur founder, Henry Francis du Pont was a great collector of Americana. Throughout his life du Pont amassed an extraordinary collection of American furniture and decorative arts, more specifically, objects used and made in America between 1630 and 1860.

On this day in history, January 7, 1789, George Washington was elected the first president of the United States of America. The Winterthur collection includes many pieces formerly owned by Washington.

In May 1785, a 302-piece dinner, tea, and breakfast service was brought to New York on the Empress of China. The Empress of China represented major growth as the first American ship to conduct trade directly with China. The service set was not custom ordered by Washington but purchased from the New York firm, Constable, Rucker, & Co in July 1786 for $150.00, a reduction from the original price. Washington used the service in the presidential mansions in New York and Philadelphia and Mount Vernon.

1996.0004.013The service features a fashionable blue and white border pattern of whimsical flowers, butterflies, and other Chinese motifs. The border was named after Thomas Fitzhugh, director of the Honourable East India Company, who had originally ordered a service with a similar border in 1780; hence, the style’s name became synonymous with his. In addition to the blue and white border, each piece of the Washington service features an emblem showing Fame personified as a winged female blowing a trumpet. In her hand she holds the badge of the Society of the Cincinnati, a bald eagle with a shield on its chest.

The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army and their French counterparts who served together in the American Revolution. It is named after Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, a Roman hero who served Rome in its time of need and then relinquished power back to the elected Roman Senate. Washington was often compared to a modern day Cincinnatus and served as the first president of the Society until his death in 1799.

1963.0700.042How the pieces came to be owned by Henry Francis du Pont is an interesting tale passed down through generations. Upon Washington’s death, the service was passed on by Martha Washington to her grandson, George Washington Parke Custis and used at Arlington House. The American government confiscated Arlington House along with the service during the Civil War. Following the Civil War, President William McKinley released the possessions to Mary Custis Lee, the daughter of Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Robert E. Lee. In 1928, du Pont purchased sixty pieces from the descendents of Mary Custis Lee.

Many pieces from the service can be viewed at the Society of the Cincinnati museum, Mount Vernon, and in the Winterthur collection, where they are on display in China Hall on the 5th floor of the museum. The Winterthur collection houses more pieces of the George Washington Society of the Cincinnati porcelain than Mount Vernon!

Post by Hilary Seitz, Marketing & Communications Department, Winterthur

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