Flowery Thoughts – People and Museums Working Together!

The first two cases of Flowery Thoughts.

A glimpse of Flowery Thoughts: Ceramic Vases & Floral Ornament at Winterthur, on view at the Brandywine River Museum of Art May 28 through September 5, 2016..

The exhibition Flowery Thoughts: Ceramic Vases & Floral Ornament at Winterthur is another in a series of loan exhibitions created by Winterthur Museum for its neighbor, the Brandywine River Museum of Art. This year’s exhibition will be unveiled at the BRMA’s 45th annual Brandywine Antiques Show (May 28–30) and will remain in the museum’s galleries through September 5.

Thomas Padon, director of the BRMA, first discussed a possible show with me back in December, and we almost immediately decided that a springtime theme was just the thing. The topic also was appropriate since the gallery we chose overlooks a beautiful, natural setting along the Brandywine River.

Winterthur's Matthew Stiles takes a break from writing 'object move' work orders.

Winterthur’s Matthew Stiles takes a break from writing ‘object move’ work orders.

Ultimately, I selected fifty Winterthur ceramic objects, variously made in Europe, America, or China from the early 1700s through modern times.

Matthew and BRMA's Stephen Ruszkowski and Gail Stanislow during case and block installation.

Matthew and BRMA’s Stephen Ruszkowski and Gail Stanislow during case and block installation.

The works range from flower vases to objects displaying painted or printed floral motifs to those with delicately hand-modeled three-dimensional flowers. (I also couldn’t resist featuring one of my favorite design elements, bugs!)

Once Thomas and I had done the easy part, picking an exhibition theme, the hard work began. Do you have any idea how many people are involved in creating even a modest-sized exhibition? And as it was a loan show, we needed coordination between two separate museum staffs.

Winterthur’s Leslie Grigsby during object installation.

Yes, I picked the objects and designed the show, but Winterthur registrar Katie Orr tracked all of the comings and goings of the objects as they wended their way around Winterthur (and eventually up the road to BRMA), and her colleagues completed detailed condition reports. Art handlers not only gathered the objects from throughout the museum but transported those needing a conservator’s care or special mounts over to our Objects Lab, while other pieces needed to go to the photo studio. Everything was then returned to the staging area for Matthew Stiles and several helpers to carefully pack all fifty quite-fragile objects.

BRMA's Stephen Ruszkowski places the final wall panel as a friend looks on from the distance.

BRMA’s Stephen Ruszkowski places the final wall panel as a friend looks on from the distance.

So, was the BRMA staff sitting and twiddling their thumbs while Winterthur was a hive of activity? Nope! Exhibition Manager Bethany Engle and Preparator Stephen Ruszkowski hit the ground running, forwarding the gallery measurements to me and checking what was available in terms of cases and blocks (each eventually being individually wrapped in fabric) to support the objects. My label copy had to be edited before it was sent on to the graphic designer, and the BRMA’s registrars coordinated with ours to ensure a safe “landing” when we arrived to install the show.

The result? Well, I suppose I’d be bragging if I said it all turned out pretty darned well… so instead I simply invite you to come and enjoy the exhibition yourself!

An overall view of the Flowery Thoughts exhibition.

An overall view of Flowery Thoughts.

I send my sincere thanks to the following people who helped make this show happen:

From Winterthur: Katie Orr, Lauren Fair, William Donnelly, Lea Lane, Matthew Stiles, Lonnie Dobbs, Betsy Keene, Laszlo Bodo, Kathan Lynch, Nat Caccamo, and Raun Townsley.

From Brandywine River Museum of Art: Thomas Padon, Bethany Engel, Sara Buehler, Amanda Burdan, Stephen Ruszkowski, Donna Gormel, Amanda Shields, Gail Stanislow, Carol Ellis and Joshua Schnapf; also Darren Carcary (Resolve) and Bill Ryder (Pop Dot).

Leslie B. Grigsby is Senior Curator of Ceramics & Glass at Winterthur Museum.

 

Click here to learn more about visiting the exhibition.

For more details about current and upcoming exhibitions and programs at Winterthur, click here.

Posted in American Culture Studies, antiques, art collections, Art Conservation, Behind-the-Scenes, Ceramics, Conservation, Decorative Arts, Design, exhibition, Exhibitions, galleries, museum collection, Students & Alumni, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Shake Your Groove Thing

Modern Dancing, by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, 1914. Winterthur Library, John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

Modern Dancing, by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, 1914. Winterthur Library, John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

Get ready to tap your toes with our newest online exhibit, Shall We Dance? Three Centuries of Dance in America.  The beauty of virtual shows is the ability to breathe new life into a previous exhibit with supplemental material and preserve it in a new format for people to enjoy for years to come.  When I first revisited the original exhibit’s label copy, my initial thought was to follow the same arrangement (material by century to show sweeping stylistic changes), but I realized quickly that a new approach might be more compelling to present online.  While keeping many items from the original show, I reviewed, researched, and added new material from our extensive museum and library collections.  The virtual show offers new interpretative sections on learning how to behave at and what to wear to dances as well as the du Pont family’s dancing activities.

Although the exhibit features numerous items from the 1700s and 1800s, for this blog post I thought it might be interesting to focus on the most recent items (at least in our world) from the 1900s to emphasize the strength of library collections from this period. And, given the popularity of shows such as Dancing with the Stars, I thought it might be fun to focus on the international dance sensations Vernon and Irene Castle.

Modern Dancing, by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, 1914. Winterthur Library, John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

Modern Dancing, by Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle, 1914. Winterthur Library, John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

In the original exhibit, a few items were displayed featuring the Castles, whose influence was felt throughout the 20th century. They popularized new dances by combining ballroom steps with those of early ragtime and jazz. New material acquired since 2006 has been added, such as the 1914 book Modern Dancing by the Castles wherein they used film stills to demonstrate the many dances they invented and transformed.  Another new acquisition, sheet music from a Broadway production, helps to further round out the history of the Castles, who dominated the 1910s by appearing in movies and plays, writing dance manuals, promoting products, and teaching dance at their New York studio, Castle House.  Vernon’s untimely death in 1918 ended their brilliant run, but their lives were immortalized in the 1939 film The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle starring another exceptional dance team, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  The Castles also taught lessons to a teenager who turned to dance as a way of overcoming his shyness.  Quick learner that he was, he was soon hired as a dance instructor by the Castles and went on to sell mail-order dance classes with footprint instructions, star in a TV show for ten years, and open and franchise dance schools that are still going strong today.  His name?  Arthur Murray.

Let’s Dance, by Arthur Murray, ca. 1937. Winterthur Library, Saul Zalesch Collection of American Ephemera

Let’s Dance, by Arthur Murray, ca. 1937. Winterthur Library, Saul Zalesch Collection of American Ephemera

Here’s a fun, little challenge for the readers, see if you can find the most modern item in the show.  Here’s a hint – remember the TV show Hullabaloo?

Visit our website to view our online exhibitions and digital collaborative projects at: http://www.winterthur.org/?p=986.

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

Posted in Du Pont Family, Ephemera, Exhibitions, Library, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


The Versatile Horn: Nature’s Plastic

In an earlier blog post, A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, we introduced objects created from coconut shells. Yet of all the organic materials in the Winterthur collection, perhaps the most versatile is the horn. Hooved mammals produce this layered growth over a boney core, which traditionally was removed through a lengthy seasoning process, leaving a hollow and largely circular cone.  For the craftsman, the most important quality of horn is its thermoplastic nature, meaning that when heated, the material becomes malleable enough to cut, flatten, and mold, giving it much of the versatility that characterizes modern plastics.

Two views of a folding comb, horn and brass, United States, 1790–1810. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1953.61

Two views of a folding comb, horn and brass, United States, 1790–1810.
Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1953.61

 

The maker of this small folding or case comb took full advantage of horn’s thermoplasticity. A seasoned horn was heated, incised, and then uncurled into a flat sheet, which was placed into a press to keep it from reverting to its natural curvature. A comb maker used a relatively thick sheet of horn known as a plate. The protective front and back were cut from the plate into matching elongated ovals. These were then heated at a lower temperature and pressed into a metal mold bearing the negative of the intended pattern. This was secured with a vice and allowed to cool. Some makers soaked the horn plate in a solution to make the material more malleable and improve the quality of the molded design. For the comb itself, the craftsman selected a thick horn plate with blonde striations that boldly contrast with the rich chocolate brown of the outer case. Using a delicate saw, the maker cut the teeth, which were then further refined through the use of files. The three elements of this comb are held together by brass rivets and a horn spacer.

Although the comb case measures only a little over three inches long (it easily fits in the palm of your hand), the molding technique imparts an impressive level of detail. Even the text above and below the figure of George Washington can be clearly read as Liberty and Washington.  The two plates incorporate popular national symbols of the period, including a liberty cap, bald eagle with arrows and olive branch, thirteen stars, and a cornucopia. The workshop or manufacturer who produced this comb selected these details with a direct eye on the taste of his consumers—patriotic motifs were available on everything from imported ceramics to furniture inlay. Winterthur is even home to two
straight razors of a similar design. Thanks to the thermoplastic qualities of horn, a founding father could be part of your grooming routine!

Razors with pressed horn cases. Left: razor, horn, iron, brass, blade marked WILSON, England, 1815–25. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2367. Right: razor, horn, iron, blade marked by William Parker, England, 1814–25. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2368.

Razors with pressed horn cases. Left: razor, horn, iron, brass, blade marked WILSON, England,     1815–25. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2367. Right: razor, horn, iron, blade marked by William Parker, England, 1814–25. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1958.2368.

 
Post by Lea C. Lane, Elizabeth and Robert Owens Curatorial Fellow

 

Posted in Academic Programs, antiques, museum collection, razors, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


A Blog Post Helps Solve an Art Mystery

The March blog post “Sleuthing in Rare Books to Reveal and Art Lover’s Interest presented the collection of William Barnes Bement (1817–1897). Bement was a prominent Philadelphia industrialist and avid art collector. However, his descendants sold off his art collection shortly after his death. The only remaining record of his holdings is a leather-bound and illustrated publication in Winterthur’s collection, Catalogue of Works of Art, with Illustrations and Descriptions; Also, Views of the Summer and Winter Homes, Etc. of William B. Bement.

Louis Claude Mouchot, Sortie of the Grand Council, 1872, reproduced in Catalogue of Works of Art, with Illustrations and Descriptions; Also, Views of the Summer and Winter Homes, Etc. of William B. Bement (Philadelphia, 1884).

Louis Claude Mouchot, Sortie of the Grand Council, 1872, reproduced in Catalogue of Works of Art, with Illustrations and Descriptions; Also, Views of the Summer and Winter Homes, Etc. of William B. Bement (Philadelphia, 1884).

Looking at the images of works and interior views presented in the catalogue, the post discussed the relative importance of different artworks for Bement. Based on its location in his home, French artist Louis Claude Mouchot’s Sortie of the Grand Council (1872) seems to have been one of his favorites. The location of this painting was—at least according to some basic online searches—unknown.

As a result of the blog post, two separate people reached out to me about the provenance and location of the painting. One of these people was the current owner! The painting, thanks to the previous blog post, has been located and now has an almost-complete provenance.

Mary Anna Webb, a professional art researcher with Montchanin Art Research and a former business and marketing director for AskART.com, reached out to me to report that she was able to trace the Sortie of the Grand Council from the sale of Bement’s collection at the American Art Association in 1899 (the catalogue of the auction is available here). It was sold to “Edward Payson Bacon for $510—another wealthy industrialist,” wrote Webb via e-mail. Bacon was one of the wealthiest men in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His biography is given five pages in Memoirs of Milwaukee County: From the Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present (1908). Webb believes the painting stayed in the Bacon family until at least 1930, when his second wife Ella died.  After that, the trail went cold.

A month later, I received another e-mail about the blog post. This time, it was from Betsy Craig, sales director at Rosenbaum Contemporary gallery in south Florida. She is the current owner of Mouchot’s Sortie of the Grand Council. She purchased it at Spanierman Gallery in New York City. Renowned art dealer Ira Spanierman, who had the painting in his private collection, told Craig that he had purchased it at “a small auction somewhere many years ago.” It seems that auction may have taken place in Milwaukee.

Craig provided full-color photos of the painting in her home. Writing in an e-mail about Sortie of the Grand Council, Craig said: “It’s one of the most interesting paintings of the Doge’s Palace I have ever seen, the colors are still strong and true. I have never come upon a painting by Claude Mouchot with so many figures on such a wide scale, I think it is his best work.”

After being notified that the Mouchot painting had been located, Webb wrote, “[This] story is a wonderful example of the connections possible through the public sharing of information about a painting.”

The provenance and fate of William Bement’s favorite painting is known—and it has a happy ending.

Post by Diana Greenwald, Doctoral Candidate, University of Oxford

 

 

Posted in Academic Programs, American Culture Studies, art collections, Art Conservation, Library, museum collection, rare books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


Exotic Woods and International Trade

The objects in the upcoming Made in the Americas exhibition tell about global trade and how it inspired artistic traditions around the world (see our previous blog post, Globalism and Culturally Inspired Craftsmanship). Furniture crafted from exotic tropical hardwoods is an important part of the story of early international trade as well. While the taste for exotic woods resulted in an aesthetic of dramatic color and contrast in furniture, it came at the high price of enslaved labor and a significant impact on tropical forests.

Winterthur’s upcoming Sewell C. Biggs Winterthur Furniture Forum (April 7–9), Exotic Woods, Masterful Makers: Tropical Hardwoods and the Luxury Furniture Trade, 1600–1850, will explore the historic trade in mahogany and other tropical furniture hardwoods, look closely at furniture made from these exotic woods, and discuss the current status of mahogany and related commercial tropical hardwoods around the world.

Currently on display in Winterthur’s In Wood gallery, this chest of drawers with doors will be one of the featured object studies at this year’s Furniture Forum.

Chest of drawers with doors London, England; 1650‒60, oak, walnut, eastern red cedar/juniper, snakewood (by microanalysis), bone, mother-of-pearl. Museum purchase 1970.428

Chest of drawers with doors
London, England; 1650‒60, oak, walnut, eastern red cedar/juniper, snakewood (by microanalysis), bone, mother-of-pearl. Museum purchase 1970.428

Made between 1650 and 1660 by Dutch or Flemish joiner-cabinetmakers who settled in London’s Southwark neighborhood, or by English craftsmen imitating their designs, the chest of drawers is an example of Netherlandish ornament popular in England in the mid-17th century.

Intended for the upper middle class market, makers incorporated snakewood in this chest to contrast with the light oak, ebonized elements, and red cedar moldings in order to simulate the richness of aristocratic furniture. Snakewood (Brosimum guianense) is indigenous to northeast coastal South America and was a commodity shipped to London between the mid-1650s and 1675 from a short-lived English colony on the Surinam River in present-day Surinam.

In addition to the contrast of colors created by the different woods in this chest (an aspect of the design that is less obvious today because of how the snakewood has faded), the makers incorporated mother-of-pearl and bone inlay (similar to many of the objects seen in the Made in the Americas exhibition). There is little attention to fine shaping in these inlaid details, most likely because it was intended for the upper middle class, not the aristocracy, and makers had to balance the time and cost dedicated to the decoration.

Snakewood detail from the chest of drawers with doors

Snakewood detail from the chest of drawers with doors

See this chest and other furniture crafted from tropical hardwoods on display in Winterthur’s In Wood gallery, and learn more about these exotic woods at Winterthur’s Furniture Forum in April. Visit winterthur.org/furnitureforum or call 800.448.3883 for more information.

Post by Kim Collison, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator, Winterthur Museum

Posted in Academic Programs, antiques, exhibition, Exhibitions, Furniture, galleries, made in the americas, Uncategorized, wood working | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Globalism and Culturally Inspired Craftsmanship

On March 26 Winterthur will welcome visitors to Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, an exhibition curated by Dennis Carr, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This exhibition examines the global reach of Asian goods, a trend that began in the sixteenth century, and demonstrates a global cultural exchange that began much earlier than many of us imagine. Not only were goods transported around the world and resources shared across continents and oceans, but artistic traditions in colonial North, Central, and South America were clearly influenced by goods from other cultures.

Desk-and-bookcase Mexico (Puebla de los Ángeles), mid-18th century Inlaid woods and incised and painted bone, maque, gold and polychrome paint Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Zoe Oliver and Charles H. Sherman Fund, 2015

Desk-and-bookcase
Mexico (Puebla de los Ángeles), mid-18th century
Inlaid woods and incised and painted bone, maque, gold and polychrome paint
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Zoe Oliver and Charles H. Sherman Fund, 2015

Highlighted in the exhibition is this desk-and-bookcase that tells its unique story resulting from this many-layered early global cultural exchange. Made in Mexico, it combines stylistic influences from many countries. The wood-and-bone Mudéjar designs of the geometric inlay on the façade, a style that was popular in viceregal Mexico, is reminiscent of Islamic architecture brought to Spain by the Moors. The Germanic vine-and-berry inlay on the sides, as well as the Dutch-style ripple molding, most likely found their inspiration from the Spanish empire at its height under the Habsburgs, during which time Spain controlled the Low Countries and parts of Central Europe. The painted interior of the object includes chinoiserie elements but depicts a map in an indigenous Mexican folk style, which includes elements of pre-Hispanic mapping traditions. Depicted here is a hacienda in Veracruz, once owned by a wealthy Spaniard, and one of the earliest free African settlements in Mexico. The figures depicted on the map may be descendants of these African slaves or free blacks.

Another object made in Mexico that is featured in Made in the Americas is Miracle of the Wedding at Cana by Nicholás Correa. This painting is an example of the enconchado (concha means “shell” in Spanish) painting that artists in Mexico created using mother-of-pearl inlay under painted surfaces to create an illusion of light. The use of mother-of-pearl in this way was in the style of Japanese nanban (exportware) lacquer, but the painting sets a portrayal of the New Testament story of the first miracle of Jesus, transforming water into wine, in a luxurious contemporary Mexican interior.

Miracle of the Wedding at Cana Nicolás Correa Mexican, born about 1670/75 Mexico (Mexico City), 1693 Mixed media with encrusted mother-of-pearl on panel On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

Miracle of the Wedding at Cana, Nicolás Correa, Mexican, born about 1670/75
Mexico (Mexico City), 1693. Mixed media with encrusted mother-of-pearl on panel.
On loan from The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY

Made in the Americas features many more extraordinary objects that tell their own stories of how global trade influenced design and craftsmanship in colonial North, Central, and South America. Join us between March 26, 2016, and January 8, 2017, to see exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia that teach us about the rich cultural heritage of the Americas.

To learn more about Asian influences on the art of the colonial Americas, enjoy this podcast from Stuff You Missed in History Class featuring an interview with curator Dennis Carr. (link to: http://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/asia-and-the-new-world-an-interview-with-dennis-carr/)

Visit winterthur.org/madeintheamericas

The exhibition at Winterthur is presented by DuPont, Glenmede, and John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw

With additional support from M & T Bank and Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP

Post by Kim Collison, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator, Winterthur Museum

Posted in antiques, Decorative Arts, Design, exhibition, House, made in the americas, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


A Priestly Treasure Trove of Ceramics

Fig-1

Around the turn of the 20th century, the Reverend Edward McClure, a Roman Catholic priest in Brockton, Massachusetts, commissioned photos of his house.  Lovingly bound in red morocco, the album cover proudly proclaims “Home of Father McClure” in gilt lettering.  Upon opening the album, viewers are immediately struck by the overwhelming number of ceramics perched on furniture, hung on walls, and even deposited on floors in the house.  After a photo tour of the rooms of the house, carefully arranged groupings of objects are featured, culminating in a photo of china-laden shelves.  Father McClure’s collection of mostly 19th-century English objects included jugs, pitchers, plates, trays, tureens, cups, mugs, vases, bowls, teapots, and figurines. There were also some objects from other countries, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Fig-3

Biographical information on McClure is fairly accessible, thanks in part to extensive coverage of his death in the local newspaper.  He was born in Maumee City, Ohio, in 1844, ordained in 1871, and served in various parishes before his appointment to St. Patrick’s Church in Brockton in 1887.  His 15-year tenure there was a very providential one for the parish as he settled its debt, renovated the church, and expanded its real estate holdings.  His death in 1902 at the age of 58 from heart and kidney disease left an immense void in the community.

Information on how McClure became interested in antiques is difficult to find, but the Brockton Times did comment on him being an “enthusiastic collector of bric-a-brac, rare pottery and valuable novelties” and valued his collection at $50,000 (nearly $1.4 million in today’s dollars).

Fig-4

Since the album is so well preserved, I like to present it to visiting groups as a wonderful example of turn-of-the-20th century interiors (underneath all the ceramics).  I always point the ceramics out and joke the priest must have had domestic help to dust them, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have collected so many pieces.  To see if there was any truth to my joke, I recently searched ancestry.com and to my delight found one man and two women listed in McClure’s household in the 1900 census.  The man, Timothy M. Woods, was most likely not responsible for housecleaning; he may have been performing building maintenance for the house and the church, chauffeuring, gardening, or similar duties.  Woods may have also learned undertaking duties by the priest’s side since the 1910 census lists his occupation as that of undertaker, a profession he performed for over two decades.  Another fascinating fact to be learned from census records is Woods’s marriage to McClure’s sister Mary E. McClure in 1909 or 1910.  Less information was found on the two women, both Irish, named Hannah O’Dormer, age 37 in 1900, who immigrated in 1888, and Hannah McCarthy, age 25, who came over in 1895.  Unfortunately, a cursory online search after 1900 yielded nothing as their names may have been misspelled on other documents or changed after marriages, but perhaps future searching will be fruitful as more records are shared online.  I answered one question about who dusted all of the china, but will never know how the two Hannahs felt about cleaning around all those fragile pieces.

To see Father McClure’s album online, click here:

http://content.winterthur.org:2011/cdm/landingpage/collection/Domestic.

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

Posted in Academic Programs, antiques, Ceramics, Decorative Arts, Library, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


The Path Less Traveled: Tom Marshall’s First “Tour” in the 1932 Packard Phaeton

Tom Marshall, founder of the Marshall Steam Museum, took the path less traveled when he took his 1932 Packard on a trip from Delaware to Northern New England. The Packard Phaeton will be on display during the Winterthur Invitational on May 7 at Winterthur. Read about Tom’s challenging journey and join us every Saturday in May to see historic automobiles.

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

Having made many trips in steam engine-powered Stanley cars over the years, including my first transcontinental tour from Montreal to Tijuana in our 1912 Stanley (total mileage 8,328), it seemed I should use my 1932 yellow Packard for such a trip. I was not sure this “modern” Packard would make the trip challenging enough, but it turned out to be both challenging and enjoyable. In late July 1974, a trip was planned with my good friends to travel from Auburn Heights in Yorklyn, Delaware, to northern New England, where we were to meet Frank and Eloise Gardner and friends. The trip would encompass 1,280 miles.

The Packard was running well as we left on a hot summer afternoon, but it started to miss and soon snorted to a stop near Boyertown, Pennsylvania, with the fuel line vapor locked. Although leaded gasoline was still in use, the 87 octane fuel proved too high for the Packard, originally designed to run on 76 octane fuel. Sunoco sold a lower grade fuel rated at 86 octane, and we put in as much as the tank would hold. We were able to putter along through the afternoon until a heavy thunderstorm occurred in Rip Van Winkle country, and the cool, damp air made the Packard run 100 percent again. We spent the first night in Kingston, New York.

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

Photo courtesy, Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve

The next day we crossed the Hudson and made our way through the northwest corner of Massachusetts into Vermont. We were expected at Woodstock, summer home of the Gardners, by dinnertime. In mid-afternoon of another hot day, we paused at Plymouth, Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace, to tour the site. As we got into the Packard to leave, we were surrounded by many spectators. As I tried to start the car, white fumes arose from the louvers in the hood. Obviously the carburetor was flooded, and the fuel was running across the very hot manifold. We expected fire to break out in the middle of the crowd of tourists, since the motor wouldn’t start! I knew the car could drift downhill, so we drifted 1/10 of a mile away from the throng, and I stopped and raised the hood. That was what the raw fuel needed: a little air to light it off. We had a fire! One of us ran up to a restaurant to get an extinguisher, but by the time they got back, the fire was subsiding, and we decided not to douse it. The needle valve in the carburetor had apparently stuck open, and the bowl had filled and run over with the electric fuel pump, feeding the fire.

The paint on the top of the hood was badly blistered, but no other damage was done. That night my friend Frank Gardner allowed me to use his lathe to reface the point on the needle valve, and we had no more serious trouble on our trip. One of my friends on the trip sewed a yellow banner that we tied across the top of the hood to hide the blisters, and we labeled it “1932 Packard.”

After spending two nights in Woodstock, we drove with the Gardners to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and stayed at the attractive Spalding Inn. In gorgeous weather we left Whitefield after two nights, said goodbye to the Gardners, and drove to the Old Tavern at Grafton, Vermont, another very enjoyable spot. On our last night away, we splurged and stayed at the Lake Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills. On August 4, we arrived home in the evening after coming through rain and flooded roads on the final portion of the trip. It had been a wonderful week, and the Packard had given me both a challenging and enjoyable trip.

Post by Tom Marshall, founder of the Marshall Steam Museum, Yorklyn, Delaware

Posted in antique cars, Historic automobiles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment


A Rare African American Schoolgirl Needlework and Its Poetic Petition

Education has always been important for American children, but it is often difficult to document through traditional historical documents, especially for girls or African Americans. One way to accomplish this is by studying surviving needlework. Winterthur has many schoolgirl samplers and needlework pictures in its collection; however, examples by African American schoolgirls are extremely rare. Winterthur was able to acquire two 19th-century needlework pictures and a late 18th-century verse sampler, which is believed to be the earliest yet identified.

Our first acquisition is a fascinating canvaswork picture dated July 3, 1846, worked by Rachel Ann Lee, who attended the Sisters of Providence School in Baltimore, Maryland. Rachel Ann’s mother worked as a laundress, which was a very low-paying job, but felt it was important to pay for her daughter’s education. The frame is original to the picture, which must have been proudly displayed in the family home.

Needlework picture, Rachel Ann Lee, Baltimore, Maryland, 1846. Museum purchase with funds drawn from the Centenary Fund 2009.13

Needlework picture, Rachel Ann Lee, Baltimore, Maryland, 1846. Museum purchase with funds drawn from the Centenary Fund
2009.13

The second 19th-century example was made by Olevia Rebecca Parker at the Lombard Street School, a public school that began to educate children from the African American community in 1828. Education was clearly very important to Olevia. She married a dentist, and their oldest son, James Brister, was the first African American to earn a degree (in dentistry) from the University of Pennsylvania. Her daughter Olivia became a teacher.

Needlework picture, Olevia Rebecca Parker, Philadelphia, 1852. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2009.12.1

Needlework picture, Olevia Rebecca Parker, Philadelphia, 1852. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2009.12.1

Like the 19th-century examples, the 18th-century sampler made by Mary D’Silver identifies its maker, her school, and the date. This plain marking sampler reads: “The well-taught philosophic mind / To all compassion gives; / Casts round the world an equal eye, / And feels for each that lives. / Wrought by Mary D’Silver / In the 8th Year of her Age Negro / School Philadelphia 1793.” Found in England, we believe that this was not a traditional sampler, but a piece of needlework gifted to or purchased by supporters of the school she attended, which was funded by the Associates of Dr. Bray, a British-based Anglican organization that supported education for people of color around the world.

Sampler, Mary D’Silver, Philadelphia, 1793. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2014.33

Sampler, Mary D’Silver, Philadelphia, 1793. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle
2014.33

The inspiration for D’Silver’s sampler was English poet Anna Laetitia (Aikin) Barbauld’s Poems, which was first published in 1773. D’Silver’s sampler includes the seventh stanza from Barbauld’s “The Mouse’s Petition.” While it was common practice for schoolgirls to embroider verses on their samplers, the edit made to this verse is notable, as was the choice of the verse itself.

Barbauld wrote “The Mouse’s Petition” as a plea to her scientist friend Joseph Priestley, whom she had witnessed doing experiments on animals in his laboratory. While Barbauld intended no real criticism of her friend (a point she made clear in a note in later editions of her book), her poem, which gave voice to the laboratory mouse, is recognized as an early work in which the rights of animals are considered and the conflict between these rights and the interests of scientific discovery are acknowledged.

While we cannot know exactly what D’Silver’s (or her teacher’s) intention was in selecting this verse for the sampler, we can surmise that the speaker’s request for compassion and justice is one that resonated with African Americans and the abolitionist cause. Perhaps what is most meaningful about the use of this verse on D’Silver’s sampler is the change that was made to the final line of the stanza. As Amy Finkel of M. Finkel & Daughter pointed out in her research, “Interestingly, young Mary D’Silver, or her teacher, changed one meaningful word in the final line of Barbauld’s stanza. Here, ‘And feels for all that lives’ becomes more personal and individual as ‘And feels for each that lives.’”

Despite her own freedom, Mary D’Silver (or at least her teacher) made a plea in this sampler for the freedom and rights of others by quoting Barbauld’s mouse in this rare surviving 18th-century African American schoolgirl’s work.

To see other examples of Winterthur’s rich collection, see our online database http://museumcollection.winterthur.org/

Post by Kim Collison, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator, in collaboration with Linda Eaton, John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles

For further reading:

Bellanca, Mary Ellen. “Science, Animal Sympathy, and Anna Barbauld’s ‘The Mouse’s Petition.’” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37.1 (Fall, 2003): 47–67.

Weldon, Amy. “’The Common Gifts of Heaven’: Animal Rights and Moral Education in Anna Letitia Barbauld’s ‘The Mouse’s Petition’ and ‘The Caterpillar.’” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 8 (June 2002).

Posted in Academic Programs, antiques, black history month, Decorative Arts, galleries, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


The Vicar & Moses

Figure group, earthenware (pearlware), Staffordshire, 1790–1810. Gift of Thomas N. and A. Pat Bernard 2002.30.84

Figure group, earthenware (pearlware), Staffordshire, 1790–1810. Gift of Thomas N. and A. Pat Bernard 2002.30.84

Mug, earthenware (creamware), Staffordshire, Eng., 1785–1805. Gift of John A and Judith C. Herdeg 2011.18

Mug, earthenware (creamware), Staffordshire, Eng., 1785–1805. Gift of John A and Judith C. Herdeg 2011.18

The humorous figure group and mug shown here probably were made in Staffordshire around 1800. They are two of five English ceramics at Winterthur that portray a popular 18th-century satirical theme known as “The Vicar and Moses.”

The popular Vicar and Moses theme satirized the Church of England and also was represented in published prints and songs from the mid-1700s onward. Simply put, the story refers to a country vicar who was much more interested in spending time at the local tavern than in tending his flock. In the portion of the story referred to on the figure group and mug, the vicar’s clerk, Moses, comes to the tavern to lead the drunken vicar off to say prayers at the graveside of a young child.

The printed design on the mug most closely resembles a print published in England by Bowles and Carver in 1785, but variations also were available from Thomas Colley (published by Hannah Humphrey, 1782) and Thomas Rowlandson (1784), among others. Some of the prints feature verses from a poem about the Vicar and Moses with varied wordings ultimately thought to be based on lyrics by G. A. Stevens, Esq. Alternatively, one might have read the poem in widely published in works such as The London Magazine or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer (London, 1771) or George Alexander Stevens’ Songs, Comic, and Satyrical (Oxford, 1782).

The below verse is from a print by Bowles and Carver, which was reissued after 1793*:

I’m come Sir, says he, to beg d’ye see

of your R’verend Worship and Glory

To inter a poor baby with as much speed as maybe

And I’ll walk with my Lanthorn before ye.
The body we’ll bury but pray where’s the hurry

Why lord, Sir, the Corps it does stay

You fool hold your peace since miracles cease

A corpse, Moses, can’t run away.

Bring Moses some beer and bring me some d’ye hear

I hate to be call’d from my liquor.

Come Moses the King, tis a scandalous thing

Such a subject should be but a Vicar.

Join us and learn more about English and other ceramics at Winterthur’s upcoming Ceramics Up Close symposium, April 14–15, 2016.

For more these and other Vicar and Moses-themed ceramics at Winterthur, visit our online museum database.

Post by Leslie B. Grigsby, Senior Curator of Ceramics & Glass, Winterthur Museum

Posted in Academic Programs, antiques, Ceramics, Decorative Arts, Events, museum collection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment