Author: Sara Long

Colloquium Features Newport Scholars and Historic Home Tours

The Decorative Arts Trust was honored to partner with the Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) once again for an Emerging Scholars Colloquium in Newport, RI.

On Saturday, February 8, 2020, three decorative arts scholars shared their recent research at the historic Isaac Bell House.

The Isaac Bell House was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White in 1883 for Isaac Bell, a wealthy cotton broker and investor. After passing through a succession of owners, PSNC purchased the house in 1996. One of the best surviving examples of Shingle Style architecture in the country, the house visually represents the search for an American mode of architectural design and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Isaac Bell House, Newport, RI
Isaac Bell House, Newport, RI

Mathilde Tollet began the Colloquium’s presentations with her lecture “The Ornate Staircase Railing at Marble House: A Unique and Exceptional Reflection of Versailles in Newport.” Tollet (2018 M.A., Museology & Conservation, l’Ecole du Louvre, Paris, and Complutense University, Madrid) is a 2020 PSNC Research Fellow. She spoke about how the gilded bronze “trophies” on the railing along the Jules Allard-designed main staircase depict mythological themes: Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion, Tritons fighting a sea monster, the shield of the Amazons and the Medusa. Mathilde studied the original models for these designs, which are based on sculptures in a garden at Versailles, and has seen drawings  from the late 17th century by the original sculptors that match the images in the Marble House bronzes.

Mathilde Tollet presents “The Ornate Staircase Railing at Marble House: A Unique and Exceptional Reflection of Versailles in Newport”
Mathilde Tollet presents “The Ornate Staircase Railing at Marble House: A Unique and Exceptional Reflection of Versailles in Newport”

2020 PSNC Research Fellow Sébastien Dutton shared information about “Discriminate Doorknobs: An Inventory of Door Hardware at The Breakers and the Delineation of Spaces using Decorative Details.” Dutton (2019 M.A., Design Studies and Historic Preservation, Boston Architectural College) examined the remarkable variety of door hardware designs, styles, and uses at The Breakers and how each was employed to distinguish a hierarchy between public, private, family, and service spaces.

Sébastien Dutton presents “Discriminate Doorknobs: An Inventory of Door Hardware at The Breakers and the Delineation of Spaces using Decorative Details"
Sébastien Dutton presents “Discriminate Doorknobs: An Inventory of Door Hardware at The Breakers and the Delineation of Spaces using Decorative Details”

Kate Hughes, 2018-2020 Peggy N. Gerry Research Scholar, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, presented “Edgefield Stoneware in The Met’s American Wing.” Hughes, 2014 M.A., Sotheby’s Institute of Art–New York, shared her experience researching 19th-century stoneware of South Carolina’s Old Edgefield District at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met). Her lecture included investigations of face vessels, storage jars, and other significant stoneware pieces. Read more about Hughes’s research in this article from The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust.

Kate Hughes presents “Edgefield Stoneware in The Met’s American Wing”
Kate Hughes presents “Edgefield Stoneware in The Met’s American Wing”

The Colloquium concluded with a tour of the Isaac Bell House by Director of Museum Affairs & Chief Curator Leslie Jones. Participants were then given complimentary access to Preservation Society properties including the Elms and The Breakers, both of which were subjects of the morning’s presentations.

Touring the Bell House
Touring the Bell House

The Decorative Arts Trust is committed to encouraging the next generation of museum curators and decorative arts historians through the Emerging Scholars Program. For updates on grant deadlines and special events, sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on social media. Members at the Ambassador level and above receive early pre-registration for events.

Philipse Manor Hall, Morris-Jumel Mansion Wow Members at the 2020 New York Antiques Weekend

Decorative arts enthusiasts had a smashing time visiting the Winter Show, Philipse Manor Hall, Morris-Jumel Mansion, and a private apartment during the Decorative Arts Trust’s 2020 New York Antiques Weekend

Held from January 24-25, the program sold out within a few short weeks. On Friday, January 24, Trust members met at the Park Avenue Armory (home of The Winter Show) and boarded a coach to be whisked away on an outing to two rarely visited historic houses. We began at Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers, where Federick Philipse III expanded an earlier family home to create an updated structure showcasing extraordinary 1750’s Rococo carved woodwork and a stunning  papier-mâché ceiling, one of only two that survive in America. The latter was recently restored as part of a “Save America’s Treasures” project. While the evolution of the house from a late-17th-century Dutch dwelling to a grand Palladian edifice is not well documented, Philipse III’s addition contains New York’s earliest extant expressions of the Rococo taste. Furniture historian Luke Beckerdite has connected the carving to Henry Hardcastle, a talented English immigrant craftsman who arrived in New York in 1751. Philipse Manor also contains an impressive collection of presidential portraits, including the six presidents from New York State. The group enjoyed a Cuban lunch at the Manor Hall and before departing for Manhattan’s Washington Heights and the Morris-Jumel Mansion. 

The oldest extant house in Manhattan, the Morris-Jumel Mansion was built in 1765 by Roger Morris, a British military officer, whose father was a London architect, who recommended an octagonal parlor extension on the back of the house, the first in Colonial America. Following decades of neglect, Eliza and Stephen Jumel purchased Mount Morris in 1810 and began a series of alterations that resulted in an updated Greek Revival house. The property became a museum in the early 20th century, and the exhibition was primarily dedicated to the Revolutionary War, when Washington briefly occupied Mount Morris as his headquarters. In recent years, the board and staff of the Morris-Jumel Mansion has updated the interpretation of the interiors to focus on the strength of the collection. Original elements from Eliza Jumel’s 1820s refurbishment were returned, which are supplemented by sympathetic decorative arts. Of particular note are the broad array of reproduction wallpapers commissioned by the staff to represent the Jumels’ interiors. The octagonal parlor features a sky and cloud motif, and the dining room contains a Zuber pattern called the Draped Cone.

Saturday began with the much-anticipated private tours of The Winter Show. Members were wowed by a variety of unique objects from furniture to silver to ceramics, described to our small groups by dealers who knew them inside and out. Also impressive was the Show’s special loan exhibition Unrivaled, which embodies the Hispanic Society Museum & Library’s exceptional collection, with masterworks from throughout the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, and the Philippines by artists including Velázquez, El Greco, and Francisco de Goya. Lunch followed in the elegant Board of Officers Room designed by Herter Brothers.

Later Saturday afternoon, members traveled to the stunning apartment of Rhetta Felton in the Verona, a c. 1908 Renaissance Revival building by William E. Mowbray on the Upper East Side. The renowned firm of Vincent Fourcade and Robert Denning served Mrs. Felton and her late husband as interior designers in their trademark “Le Goût Rothschild” mode. Against the backdrop of the apartment’s original interior woodwork, Fourcade and Denning laid out the Feltons’ impressive collection of English and French furniture; French, English, and Chinese porcelain; and Continental fine art. While we cannot fully describe the treasures in Rhetta Felton’s home for privacy reasons, we can say that tour participants were thrilled to see her spacious and beautifully appointed home. 

Overall, yet another New York Antiques Weekend was a phenomenal success! 

Details about the 2021 New York Antiques Weekend will be announced in late fall 2020. The Trust has many more special programs and events scheduled for 2020 and 2021. Sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on social media for updates. Members at the Ambassador level and above receive early pre-registration for events. 

Exterior of the Verona Building

Sold-Out New York Colloquium a Big Success

The Decorative Arts Trust is passionate about highlighting the work of emerging scholars in the field. One of our most enjoyable ways to do this is to gather recent research grant, interns, and scholarship recipients for a chance to share their research with Trust members during New York’s Americana Week. 

The 2020 Emerging Scholars Colloquium in New York City was a fabulous event for members and speakers alike, who joined a sold-out crowd for this fourth installation of the program. Co-hosted with the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust and sponsored in part by the Wunsch Americana Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Ayres, III, the Colloquium featured five scholars showcasing their discoveries in the field of material culture. 

Classical American Homes Preservation Trust Co-President Margize Howell welcomed the group to the George F. Baker Carriage House. Especially notable on the exterior of the Baker complex of houses is the Ionic colonnade on the east façade of 69 East 93rd Street. The colonnade, consisting of four matched pairs of fluted Ionic columns two stories high, frames a second floor loggia. These tall columns provide an elegant backdrop to what was once the Bakers’ “French Courtyard.” 

The Decorative Arts Trust’s Director of Educational Programs Kristina Gray and board member Ralph Harvard introduced the presenters:

  • Edgefield Stoneware in The Met’s American Wing
    Katherine C. Hughes, Peggy N. Gerry Research Scholar, The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Textiles and Design Exchanges between India and the United States in the Mid-Twentieth Century
    Vishal Khandelwal, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • The Eameses and The Case Study House Program: Introducing Scandinavian Design to Mid-Century America
    Rachel Pool Fillhouer, History of Design and Curatorial Studies, Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • A Tale of Two Families: An Engraved Tea Service in Antebellum Augusta, Georgia
    Kayli Rideout, American Studies, Boston University
  • Transpacific Scopic Frames: the Folded Spaces of Two 18th-Century Pueblan Cabinets
    Celia Rodríguez Tejuca, Art History, Johns Hopkins University

Peter M. Kenny, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust’s other Co-President, concluded the program by thanking the group and ushering them next door to the George F. Baker House for a Bloody Mary Brunch Benefit to support the Decorative Arts Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program. Formerly the private residence of the late Richard H. Jenrette, the beautifully decorated house boasts high ceilings, tall French windows, Classical marble mantels, arched doorways, and an elegant spiral staircase that brings in light from a domed skylight above. 

We plan to post recordings of the lectures on the Trust’s YouTube channel within the next few months. 

Look for information about the January 2021 Emerging Scholars Colloquium in New York in late fall 2020. The Trust also is partnering with the Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island for an Emerging Scholars Colloquium in Newport on Saturday, February 8. The Trust has many other special programs and events scheduled as well. For updates, sign up for our e-newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Members at the Ambassador level and above receive early pre-registration for events.

Watch Videos About Antebellum Charleston, Edgefield Pottery, Maryland’s Governor’s Mansion, and New York Jacquard Coverlets

At the Decorative Arts Trust, we’re passionate about sharing new research and scholarship with decorative arts enthusiasts. Please enjoy these lecture recordings from emerging scholars from recent educational programs and events.  

“Her Fingers O’er this Canvas Move”: Unraveling the Threads of Race, Class, and Female Education in Antebellum Charleston
Alexandra Cade 
Colonial Williamsburg McNamara Young Scholar Lectures at the Antiques Forum, February 2019

MESDA’s Edgefield Bowl: The Black and White Landscape of the B.F. Landrum Pottery Site
Katherine C. Hughes 
Colonial Williamsburg McNamara Young Scholar Lectures at the Antiques Forum, February 2019

Seized Possessions: Reconstructing Maryland’s First Governor’s Mansion
Michelle Fitzgerald 
Decorative Arts Trust Spring 2019 Symposium in Annapolis, MD

Women, Weavers & Jacquard Coverlets in New York State
Britney Schline Yatrakis
Decorative Arts Trust Spring 2018 Symposium in Upper Hudson

Visit our Youtube channel for more videos about the decorative arts and material culture. 

If these decorative arts subjects interested you, we encourage you to learn more about our Emerging Scholars Program, upcoming events, and the benefits of Trust membership

Announcing the New Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation

To further the Decorative Arts Trust’s mission to promote and foster the appreciation and study of the arts, the Trust has established a Prize for Excellence and Innovation to be awarded annually beginning in 2020. The inaugural prize will be for $100,000 to a scholarly endeavor undertaken by a non-profit organization, such as museum exhibitions, print and digital publications, and online databases. Projects for consideration must advance the public’s appreciation of decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, or landscape design.

All images courtesy of Old Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.

The Trust invites applicants to submit nominations and self-nominations through June 30, 2020, which should stipulate the defined mission and outcomes of the project as well as include a budget, project timeline, and list of key personnel and partners, if applicable. Projects can extend 1–5 years for final completion after the prize is awarded, but no longer. Collaborative endeavors that unite multiple institutions will also receive consideration.

The Trust’s selection committee aims to recognize impactful and original projects that advance the field while reaching a broad audience. Finalists will be notified by the end of 2020.

The Trust’s Executive Director Matthew A. Thurlow believes “this new award will advance the work of our talented mid- and late-career colleagues as a complement to our efforts to support young scholars through the Emerging Scholars Program. Thanks to the generosity of three lead donors, we are making a long-term commitment to furthering innovative scholarship in the arts while reinforcing the Trust’s mission and promoting our broader programs. We look forward to celebrating exceptional endeavors in the arts.”

The Trust is thrilled to embark on this initiative. We welcome additional contributions to endow the Prize, including appreciated securities and IRA and other retirement fund disbursements. 

Edit: The March 31, 2020, deadline was extended to June 30, 2020, on March 25, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All images courtesy of Old Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.

Decorative Arts Trust Board of Governors Thanks Reed, Hardy, and Brockway, Welcomes Buchanan and May

The beginning of a new year signals a changing of the guard at the Decorative Arts Trust. As our Board of Governors begins its 2020 transition, we are taking this time to thank three longtime leaders and to welcome two new leaders to our fold.

Helen Scott Reed

Helen Scott Reed

Helen Scott Reed has been a prominent fixture at the Trust for almost 40 years. Helen Scott was a driving force behind the creation of the Study Trip Abroad program in the 1990s and has led dozens of programs across Europe with our members. She served as the Board’s Treasurer for three years and Secretary for eight years. We wish Helen all the best, and we know we’ll see her on our travels! 

James J. Hardy

James J. Hardy

Dr. James J. Hardy was appointed to the Board in 2007 and has served as Treasurer since 2017. Jim and his wife, Mig, have been active members, participating in numerous domestic and international programs. Jim recently opened James Hardy Design, Inc. and is transitioning from a medical practice to an interior design studio.

Lucinda A. Brockway

Lucinda A. Brockway

The Board thanks outgoing Governor Cindy Brockway, who joined the Trust in 2012 and became a Governor in 2014. She currently serves as the Cultural Resources Program Director for The Trustees of Reservations, where she has been responsible for cultural landscapes and other cultural resources throughout Trustees’ 25,000 acres and 107 properties across Massachusetts. She was especially instrumental in facilitating the events of the Fall 2019 Symposium in the Berkshires.

Mel Buchanan

Mel Buchanan

New Board Governor Mel Buchanan is the RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at New Orleans Museum of Art. She studied at Yale University and the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and has held roles at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Rhode Island School of Design. We’re looking forward to working with Mel on many upcoming decorative arts projects.

Gregory May

Gregory May

We welcome Gregory May to the Board as well. May is an internationally-known tax expert who brings a fresh and vigorous perspective to American financial history. After working as a Supreme Court law clerk, Greg practiced law in Washington, DC, and New York for thirty years. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Harvard Law School. He has spent decades of working on historic preservation, and his knowledge of finance, history, and material culture will be an asset to the Trust.

Thank you these and all of the other leaders on our Board of Governors who have dedicated their time to guiding the Decorative Arts Trust.

Failey Grant Awarded to American Swedish Historical Museum

The Failey Grant program provides support for noteworthy research, exhibition, publication, and conservation projects through the Dean F. Failey Fund, named in honor of the Trust’s late Governor. Preference is given to projects that employ or are led by young professionals in the museum field. The Committee is pleased to announce that the level of funding for 2020 was increased to $10,000.

Dean F. Failey and Marie Failey
Dean F. Failey and Marie Failey

The Decorative Arts Trust has named the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, PA, as the recipient of the 2020 Failey Grant. In 2021, the American Swedish Historical Museum will mount the exhibition American by Craft: The Art Furniture of Olaf Althin, which presents the career of a largely forgotten immigrant cabinetmaker. 

Working in Boston at the turn of the 20th century, Althin was an influential figure in the nascent American antiques trade. Curator Trevor Brandt is serving as project lead, assisted by Erica Lome, a doctoral candidate in the American Civilization Program at the University of Delaware and a past recipient of a Summer Research Grant from the Trust. 

Lome learned of Althin’s impressive career during her dissertation research, and the curatorial team has reconstructed his story while locating furniture made by him and tools, papers, photographs, and drawings to contextualize his oeuvre. His impressive list of patrons included H. Eugene Bolles, Henry Davis Sleeper, and John Wanamaker. The ASHM’s show will juxtapose Althin’s Scandinavian craft background against the American Arts & Crafts and Colonial Revival movements. The Decorative Arts Trust is excited to be a part of this inspiring exhibit. 

The Failey Grant is part of the Decorative Arts Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program, which supports a robust system of grants, scholarships, lectures, and internships.  Thank you to all of the members and donors who support our mission to encourage the next generation of museum curators and decorative arts historians.  

Concord Museum Awarded Curatorial Internship Grant

The Decorative Arts Trust is pleased to announce our partner for the 2020-2022 Curatorial Internship Grant: the Concord Museum in Concord, MA. 

About the Grant 

The Trust underwrites curatorial internships for recent Masters or PhD graduates in collaboration with museums and historical societies. Through a matching-grant program, these internships allow host organizations to hire a deserving professional who will learn about the responsibilities and duties common to the curatorial field while working alongside a talented mentor. The Trust’s internship program seeks to provide mutually beneficial opportunities that will nurture the next generation of museum curators while providing essential staffing for the host. Deadlines for the two-year grants are annually on September 30. 

About this Curatorial Internship Opportunity 

The Concord Museum is embarking on a two and a half year effort to redesign their 14 permanent galleries. Called Concord: At the Center of Revolution, the newly renovated 6,000-square-foot permanent exhibition is set to reimagine the Museum experience. The project will begin by focusing on three galleries related to Concord’s role in the political revolution of 1775. Phase Two will focus on the Transcendentalist period leading up to the Civil War as well as four decorative arts galleries. 

The curatorial intern will serve as the assistant project manager for this exciting undertaking and will be involved will all levels of the project, including selection of artifacts, facilitating conservation, meeting with design partners, installation, writing, editing, developing operation manuals for media elements, and analyzing the visitor experience. The intern selected will work under the direction and mentorship of the Concord Museum’s curator, David Wood, and will be an essential member of the exhibition team. 

The Concord Museum will open applications for this internship soon. Visit the Concord Museum’s website for updates or to sign up for their email list. Also look out for social media posts on the Concord Museum Facebook and Twitter pages and the Decorative Arts Trust’s Facebook and Twitter pages. 

About the Concord Museum

At the Concord Museum, Concord’s remarkable past is brought to life through an inspiring collection of historical, literary, and decorative arts treasures. Highlights of the over 50,000 artifacts include Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study, Henry David Thoreau’s desk, Louisa May Alcott’s tea kettle, a Paul Revere lantern, a Paleoindian spearhead, the most complete collection of Concord clocks anywhere, and more.