Monday
Jul232018

The Hunter House, Newport Rhode Island

Two years ago, I scheduled the Hunter House as a place to visit on our trip to Newport, Rhode Island. The tours of Hunter House are a separate package from the grand mansion tours and the price of a ticket is $30. Townsend & Goddard furniture are kept here and we decided to come back another time when we could take our time on the tour. A year later, I made plans to return to Newport. What better way to celebrate my 60th birthday than to devote a morning to the Hunter House? After a tasty breakfast at the Artful Lodger B&B, we drove to 54 Washington Street and found street parking. Be prepared, the Hunter House does not compare in any way to the grand Newport Mansions. However, in its time, it was home to a number of influential people.There were no visitors when we arrived around 10:40 that day, but, the rules are a bit quirky here and they might have made us wait until 11:00 ( there were at least 2 tour guides available) but after some persuasion, we proceeded.

Our guide David was very knowledgeable and we asked him to tell us EVERYTHING he knew. The original portion of the house was built in 1748 for Colonel Deputy Governor Jonathan Nichols, Jr. Nichols died in 1756 and Colonel Deputy Governor Joseph Wanton purchased the house. The house gained an addition and a second chimney along with a central hall during Wanton’s tenure. These changes produced a formal Georgian mansion. However, Wanton was a loyalist and a merchant during the Revolution and was imprisoned for treason. After the Revolution, Senator and Ambassador William Hunter purchased the house and for this man the house was named.

No photography is permitted in the Hunter House because some of the furnishings are privately owned and on loan. It is worth the trip to see these pieces. In the Northeast parlor, a John Goddard triple top gaming table rests beside one wall. It has four open talon claw and ball feet. Pilasters with carved Corinthian capitals frame the fireplace while tiny winged cherub faces smile down on visitors.

The Southeast sitting room has grain painted pine panels that resemble walnut. And here is where I found a friend. I had seen this painting by Gilbert Stuart at the Yale University Museum.

There is also a splendid Honduran mahogany desk with duck feet in this room. A painting by Cosmo Alexander is featured here. Alexander was one of Gilbert Stuart’s first teachers.

In the hallway outside the sitting room is a massive Townsend King of Prussia marble top side table with front web claw and ball feet in the front and spade feet in the rear. A cherry tall case clock by James Wady keeps time in the hallway. There are only six known Wady clocks in existence.

The keeping room has a very large fireplace with a 1740 Newport Harbor scene hanging above. Jacobean furniture has the stage here, along with Westerwald jars and Newport pewter by Melville and Belcher.

The dining room or reception room is decorated with pine panels painted as rose cedar. They are beautiful and I asked Charlie if we could do this to our home.

The mahogany staircase is not original to the home. The twisted balusters are a marvel of turning skill. The stairway leads to another room with panels of rose cedar paint. A discovery above the fireplace reveals a very early landscape painting of the settlement of Newport. A Goddard highboy resides here along with a Chippendale mirror with a perched phoenix.

The upper hallway shows a sample row of chairs from different periods to compare and contrast. Admiral de Ternay’s room is above the Northeast room and is almost identical to the room beneath with siblings of the smiling cherubs. It is painted a moss green color. A curious image of the Touro Tower hangs above the fireplace. The focal point of this room is a Townsend/Goddard Santa Domingo Mahogany highboy.

Across the hall is the Hepplewhite room. The central feature of this room is a beautiful Holmes Weaver Hepplewhite card table. A piece by John Townsend in this room displays exquisite bellflower decoration. It is amazing that Townsend could transition from Chippendale to Hepplewhite with such ease.

The final upstairs room displayed an excellent white trapunto bed cover. The stuffed work was extraordinary. Again, this room was identical to the room below in terms of layout.

Originally, the front door faced the harbor. Legend has it, that when the master was home, he put a pineapple outside on a post to notify neighbors of his safe return.

Wednesday
Jul042018

A Burlington County Quaker Discovery

Recently, we visited a Quaker family in Burlington County, NJ on a house call. Among other items, they wished to consign this photograph. The image itself was curious and we wondered if there might be something more hidden behind the photo.

One clue - The frame was grain painted beneath the varnish.

Another clue - The frame construction appeared to be older than the image it contained.

Plus a wood backboard and undisturbed tacks.

I took it home and left it in a corner for a few days. Finally, at the right moment, I sat down and carefully removed the tacks. I was hoping for a fraktur or a birth/marriage certificate. I held my breath.

It was an Award of Merit, issued at Westtown School in Pennsylvania in 1886 to Edward T. Middleton.

I assume, the calligraphy was executed by Edwin Thorp, who was a teacher at Westtown School at that time. These awards are lovely and I'm certain, a coveted trophy by the student.

But, why was the award covered by an odd photograph? I did some more research and discovered

a heartbreaking incidental memory in the Friends Intelligencer, 1892. The poor parents must have been devastated at the death of their son. I suppose, the Award of Merit, hung with pride in their home. To hide the painful memory the award was covered by a photo of a stairway, leading to heaven or an unfinished house (unfinished life)

I contacted the consigner and they wished to keep the calligraphy. They have a son named Edward. They did not know this story. I hope, if anyone ever learns about my heritage that they will share it with me.

Friday
Apr272018

Grant Wood- American Gothic & Other Fables at the Whitney Museum in NYC

I am a child of the 60's. I knew the painting American Gothic and associated it with Kellogg's Cornflakes. Now that I am approaching my 60's, I have come to appreciate Grant Wood's skill. I highly recommend a trip to the Whitney Museum in NYC to view the exhibition of Grant Wood's work. I find it very engaging. There is also a beautiful book for purchase filled with his creations and interesting essays. On view until June 2018.

Overmantel Decoration by Grant Wood, painted the same year as American Gothic 1930

Lilies of the Alley - earthenware pot and found objects by Grant Wood, 1925

Plaid Sweater by Grant Wood, 1931

Corn Cob Chandelier for the Iowa Club Room by Grant Wood, 1925

The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover by Grant Wood, 1931

Stained Glass Window by Grant Wood

Dinner for Threshers by Grant wood, 1931

Appraisal by Grant Wood, 1931

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Grant Wood, 1931

American Gothic by Grant Wood, 1930 ( his sister & his dentist were the models!)

 

 

Thursday
Apr262018

Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show 2018

Here are some of my favs from the show......

Charlie checking out the Paint Decorated Child's desk, circa 1820-1830 in th booth of Kelly Kinzle

Paint Decorated Child's desk circa 1820-1830, Kelly Kinzle

Patchwork Quilt of 28 Buildings in the booth of Olde Hope Antiques

Pair of African American Andirons in the booth of Steven S. Powers

Mock Orange by daughter of a slave, Ida Jones displayed in the booth of Steven S. Powers

Fly Eagles Fly!!!! For a Super Bowl fan- a full body eagle weathervane. A gift from President Woodrow Wilson in 1920 to a deserving citizen. The eagle was placed on a pole and surrounded by trees. The trees grew and obscured the vane. Eventually, the eagle was placed in a barn where it sat until now. In the booth of Nathan Liverant & Son

The booth of Jim & Nancy Glazer

The booth of Charles Clark

Love these! Porcelain Garden Seats in the booth of John Chaski

Somerville Manning Gallery

Wednesday
Apr182018

Museum of the American Revolution – Verplanck’s Point Camp

The Museum of the American Revolution opened Spring, 2017. During that time, Charlie & I were in the middle of a major move, from our home of 30+ years in Moorestown, NJ to Maplewood, NJ. Simultaneously, our daughter decided she wanted to get married during all the commotion. We produced a lovely February 2018 wedding for her (60 degree temps that day, to my relief) I mention this only because now we seem to be locked into the winter that will never end, even in April!

At the first opportunity in February, 2018 we determined to see the Verplanck’s Point Exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution located at 101 South Third Street in Philadelphia. I was VERY excited to see this exhibit.

On display in the first floor exhibition hall was a 7 foot long panorama of a Revolutionary War watercolor that is “the only known wartime depiction of George Washington’s headquarters tent.”   It was breathtaking, not only in terms of artistic merit, but, because it was an actual depiction of the layout of the camp at Verplanck’s Point in New York in 1782.

 

Where is Verplanck’s Point and who was Verplanck? According to the HudsonValleyGal, Verplanck’s Point was originally purchased from the Native Americans by Dutch colonist Stevanus Van Cortlandt in 1683. His granddaughter Gertrude inherited the property and married Philip Verplanck who renamed the land Verplanck in place of the original Native American name, Meanagh. By the way, Philp’s parents were Jacobus Verplanck and Margaret Schuyler.

Verplanck’s Point is located on the east side of the Hudson River, off Route 9 across from Bear Mountain State Park. Today, it is a peaceful setting, where a few  markers acknowledge  historic events and an important 18th century ferry crossing. This crossing was commandeered by the British during the Revolution. Washington made an attempt to reclaim this ferry crossing but his plan was neutralized. Eventually, the British moved on, leaving the ferry crossing unoccupied and allowing for the Washington encampment. (allthingsliberty.com)

The 7 foot panorama was painted by Pierre Charles L’Enfant. L’Enfant was the son of a painter and had studied at the Louvre among other prestigious art institutes. He came to America as a French soldier and served on Washington’s staff in Valley Forge and in the Hudson Valley.

The watercolor was divided into 6 parts, mounted on linen and bound in book form. It was auctioned in May, 2017 at Heritage Auctions and purchased by Philip Mead, chief historian and director of curatorial affairs at the Museum of the Revolution. Mead was thrilled to purchase such an important piece of American history that coincided with the Museum’s opening and depicts the historic headquarters tent.

A word about the Museum. If you go, allow plenty of time. There is much to see, read, experience, and ponder. Take the children. Even though there is a lot of reading, the experience will stay with them. Lots of hands on activities. I particularly enjoyed the film in the theatre that discussed the war. The finale of Washington’s actual tent on display is very moving. The Verplanck's Point exhibition closed on February 19, 2018.