On Display: “Provincial Exile: Roelof Josiah Eltinge’s Banishment from the Paltz”

Provincial Exile: Roelof Josiah Eltinge’s Banishment from the Paltz
On Display Through August 9, 2017

Historic Huguenot Street has curated a new exhibit entitled Provincial Exile: Roelof Josiah Eltinge’s Banishment from the Paltz, now on display at the DuBois Visitor Center (81 Huguenot Street) through June 27, 2017.

While there were no battles fought in the village of New Paltz during the Revolutionary War, the fight against the British would drastically alter the life of one person. Roelof Josiah Eltinge’s troubles began in 1776, when he refused to accept Continental currency in his storefront at the house we now call Bevier-Elting.

According to resolutions passed by the New York Provincial Congress in 1775, those who refused currency issued by either the Continental or Provincial Congress were to be imprisoned and treated as enemies. Eltinge was thus brought before the Ulster County Committee of Safety (charged by the Provincial Congress with suppressing Tories), which imprisoned and then exiled him from Ulster County until the end of the war in 1783.

The exhibit Provincial Exile: Roelof Josiah Eltinge’s Banishment from the Paltz explores the revolutionary era in New Paltz through the life of Roelof Josiah Eltinge and features documentation of his imprisonment and his diary, all drawn from the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection and Archives.

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On Display: John Hasbrouck, “A Most Estimable Citizen”

John Hasbrouck, “A Most Estimable Citizen”
On Display Through June 27, 2017

Historic Huguenot Street has curated a new exhibit entitled John Hasbrouck, “A Most Estimable Citizen,” now on display at the DuBois Visitor Center (81 Huguenot Street) through June 27, 2017.

John Hasbrouck’s Account Book, HHS Archives

John Hasbrouck was born to an enslaved woman in New Paltz in 1806 and, later, as a freeman, was able to purchase land in the town. He is commonly believed to be the first African American eligible to vote in New Paltz. The exhibit features original records; two account books in John’s own hand, listing work he did for white farmers and how he was compensated; as well as personal notes, letters, and receipts. The exhibit is accompanied by a full-length, biographical essay written by Josephine Bloodgood, Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs.

This exhibit coincides with Historic Huguenot Street’s June 17 event celebrating African culture, music, and cuisine in honor of Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, carrying news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved had been freed. Catered by Chef Brandon Walker in consultation with culinary historian Michael W. Twitty, the Museum’s Juneteenth celebration will feature a performance by cultural advocate and singer/songwriter Kim Harris, as well as a presentation by Terry James, Board Member of The Slave Dwelling Project.

The exhibit John Hasbrouck, “A Most Estimable Citizen” is free and open to the public during regular hours at the Visitor Center, 10 am – 5 pm daily, except Wednesdays.

Alida Bevier: An Artist’s Career Representative of Social Change

By: Hannah Peterson

Hanging in the LeFevre House as part of a larger exhibit entitled “An Excellent Likeness” on Historic Huguenot Street is a portrait of a young blond-haired boy, around the age of 3, dressed in a white gown and lightly holding red flowers in his hands.  Realized by Alida Bevier, the portrait truly captures the youth and joy of the subject, as his expression and hand gestures seems only natural for a baby of his age. The depiction of the flowers, whose color deeply contrasts with the subtly patterned white dress and mirrors the background, are also greatly naturalistic as some are released from the boy’s grasp and fall into the boy’s lap while a few petals detach themselves from the stems.

This young boy is Louis S. Bevier, and his identity is tied to the history of New Paltz. Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1885, Louis, son of Dr. Louis Bevier – a PhD holder in language from Johns Hopkins University – is 8th in line of descent from Louis Bevier, original patentee of New Paltz. Although not born in the Hudson Valley, Louis remained attached to the area as he died in Woodstock in 1963 after a successful life, in which he was a graduate of Rutgers University – where his father Louis Bevier served as dean – and Columbia Law School, a practicing New York City lawyer for 40 years, and a World War I veteran.

Louis Bevier led an interesting life. However, my interest in the painting does not lie in its subject matter, but rather in the identity of the portraitist and Louis’ paternal aunt, Alida Bevier. Although there are not overwhelming sources concerning her life, Alida Bevier, who later became Alida Bevier Van Dyck following her marriage to Reverend Ezekiel Deyo Van Dyck in 1888, was the only one of five siblings to stay away from a teaching career. Instead, Alida followed an artistic path. As a young artist she gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century New York City art scenes, and was even included in Marquis’ publication of Who’s Who in America, an early 20th century journal series compiling short biographies of the people of the time. Alida’s success as an artist in New York City is telling of a time in which women were gaining greater and greater independence, and had begun infiltrating the art world, which had early in the 18th century been strictly reserved for men.

As the youngest child in her family, Alida must have looked up to her three older sisters and brother as she grew up. All four college graduates from various universities around the city such as Hunter College and Rutgers University, it must have felt natural for Alida to further her education. Contrary to her siblings, however, Alida had no interest in teaching, and consequently chose to deepen her knowledge of artistic practice by attending the National Academy of Design in New York City. There she learned to be a professional artist and took classes such as antique drawing and life classes – drawing from nude models – which were unofficially organized for women after 1857.

During her time in New York City, Alida won awards, such as the first prize for the “Drawing from the Antique” category of the 1881 Cooper Union Female Art School contest. Additionally, her work was discussed and exhibited in a number of locations such as the Art Chronicle, the Artist and Journal of Home Culture and exhibitions within the National Academy of Design. Alida’s involvement in the New York City art world was a new and still-developing possibility for women of the late 19th-century. Indeed, although the National Academy of Design prided itself on equal opportunity after its opening in 1825, women were not regularly admitted until 1846. The rules regarding female admission to art schools, was even stricter in Europe, however, where no women attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris or the Academy in Rome throughout the entire 19th century.

Despite the National Academy of Design’s mission to provide their students with a program based on the art, rather than a patron’s demands, there remained a strong disparity between the male and female artists. Indeed, antique classes for women only started in 1831, 6 years after the school’s initial opening, while anatomy and life drawing classes, considered foundational approaches to the instruction of art, were only available to women starting in the 1860s. In 1869, the Academy faced a severe financial crisis that “floundered the liberality go the Academicians.” Strikingly, the Academicians chose to mortgage their school’s building rather than realize the proposed merger with Cooper Union that would have allowed the Cooper Union’s 150 female art students to use the National Academy’s facilities.

Understanding this history of the National Design Academy and other art schools of the time, we realize that Alida Bevier’s career is not only impressive because she made a small name for herself in the New York art world, but also due to her career’s significance in the larger context and story of women and 19th-century art academies. Indeed, even though Alida may not have encountered as much resistance as her predecessors at the National Academy, Alida’s career, just as the careers of the Academy’s entire female student body – constituting a third of the student body by the 1870s – was the result of great social change in the US. In addition to bringing artists to work independently from the limiting demands of patrons as early as the 1830s, this social change also brought women to gain further independence by following a previously unattainable career path.

Sources:

The Artist and Journal of Home Culture, Volume VII. London: Wells Gardiner, Darton and Co, 1886.

Andre, Dale. The American Beviers. 2014.

Cooper, W. A. “The National Academy of Design.” Godey’s Magazine 130 (Jan, 1895): 583-589.

“American Art Chronicle.” The American Art Review 2 (Jun, 1881): 82-90.

History.”  National Academy Museum. New York.

Whitney Museum of Art, 19th Century American Women Artists. New York: Whitney Museum of Art, 1976.

A Biblical Stu-Tea

By Emily Finan

This week’s object from our collection is a peculiar little teapot.  Received as a gift from Isabelle Bevier Cornell in 1989, this intricate teapot functions far beyond a task of  holding tea; it provides a lesson of biblical morality to its drinker, which demonstrates the contemporary values of American society at the time of its creation.

The teapot is approximately 7 inches in height, has a ten sided shape with a high inset lid and a flower head finial with high relief ornamentation on the spout and handle.  Its unique composition of yellow earthenware with a mottled brown, tortoiseshell glaze lends credibility to the supposition that it is a Rockingham ware piece. Rockingham ware is characterized as “highly fired earthenware or stoneware, generally with a buff to yellow paste and a brown mottled and streaked glaze, often characterized by patches of the vessel’s body showing through.” This distinct style did not originate in America, however, but is a product of England. The term itself is derived from the late 18th century as a way to describe a dark brown glaze created by potters in Yorkshire, England, working at the estate of the Marquis of Rockingham. The style emigrated to America with designers such as Edwin Bennett, who left East Liverpool in 1844 and moved to Birmingham, Pennsylvania with his three brothers, where he formed their company, E.&W. Bennett. It is highly likely that this teapot is a product of the E.&W. Bennett company because an identical teapot that also bears the same biblical iconography, resides in The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. The matching teapot in Houston was modeled by Charles Coxon, who worked for E.&W. Bennett, which increases the likelihood that the piece we have here at Huguenot Street is a product of Coxon as well.  Although the glaze of the teapot is highly alluring, what is even more fascinating is the iconography represented and the symbolism it connotes.

The iconography represented on the teapot is the image of Rebekah at the Well, described in the Old Testament.  In the biblical account, Abraham sent a servant to find his son, Isaac, a suitable wife.  The servant came upon the beautiful virgin Rebekah gathering water at a well, as depicted on the teapot.  The servant was sure she was sent from God himself because she was both beautiful and generous, graciously giving the servant and his camels an abundant supply of water from the well. The moment depicted on the teapot of Rebekah gathering water at the well, is a curious image to depict on a household object.  The feminine association of the teapot, however, may provide insight to the decision to include such biblical imagery, while also revealing contemporary gender identity.

Strong gender identifications permeated the late nineteenth century American domestic sphere, specifically in the act of serving and consuming tea.  In virtually every representation of a tea party, women are shown as the pourers.  The act of pouring tea exemplifies the ways in which women were expected to serve men, which was conceived to be a “virtual extension of one’s womanhood.” It is, therefore, by no coincidence that the image of Rebekah at the Well would resonate well with contemporary religious women.  The presence of this biblical iconography would encourage women to reflect the “true womanhood”, exemplified by Rebekah, of “piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity.” Through the act of pouring water and serving others, women could feel a connection to Rebekah, the ideal woman.  For example, “the woman at home serving liquid refreshments to others could pour from the teapot bearing the image of Rebekah, who also served liquid refreshment and who, representing submissiveness to God’s will and the needs of man- and also purity, being chosen by God- was the ultimate example of the True Woman.” The teapot’s biblical iconography is, thus, tremendously purposeful in perpetuating gender identity by encouraging women of this time to emulate the biblical iconography that equates womanhood with serving men.  The visual presence of the Rebekah teapot in the domestic space would function as a reminder to women to remain pious and maintain a religious home.  In this way, the furnishings within a home were thought to contribute to the religious well-being of the family, which is conveyed impeccably by Protestant theologian, Horace Bushell’s, statement that “religion never thoroughly penetrates life, til it becomes domestic.” Through the act of observing the Rebekah teapot, one gains insight into the deeply ingrained religious ideas and ideals of the late nineteenth century.  A seemingly banal teapot actually functions in a social role that is far more extensive than its utilitarian purpose; it serves to define contemporary gender roles and stratification through a biblical lens.  By portraying the image of a woman who presents ideal Christian morals on a frequently used object, one is able to see how objects themselves move beyond their original function and, through the use of purposeful ornamentation, lends insight to their contemporary world.

Sources:

Claney, Jane Perkins.  Rockingham Ware in American Culture, 1830-1930: Reading Historical Artifacts.  New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2004.

’Fancy Rockingham’ Pottery: The Modeller and Ceramics in Nineteenth-Century America, September 9, 2004 to February 27, 2005.”  Trenton Potteries vol. 5, issue 2, June 2004.  Accessed April 5, 2017.

Goldberg, Arthur F.  “Highlights in the Development of the Rockingham and Yellow Ware Industry in the United States- A Brief Review with Representative Examples.”  Chipstone, 2003.  Accessed April 5, 2017.

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.  “Rockingham Ware.” Accessed April 5, 2017.

Strauss, Richard L.  “Talk to Me- The Story of Isaac and Rebekah.”  June 28, 2004.  Accessed April 5, 2017.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  “E. & W. Bennett Teapot.”  Accessed April 5, 2017.

“We wish to live with you in peace and love:” Hendrick Aupaumut’s Letter to the New York Legislature

By Carolyn Gordon

A few weeks ago, while volunteering to transcribe archives I saw a letter written about 1790 from an American Indian named Hendrick Aupaumut to the New York Legislature. I was fascinated, not just because he wrote it in English and I could read it, but also because it offered a glimpse into the struggles of indigenous people after the Revolution as we were establishing our democracy.

Hendrick Aupaumut was a member of the Stockbridge Munsee tribe and was probably descended from the Mohawk chief Hendrick. He, and many people from his tribe, fought in the Revolution where they served as scouts. Aupaumut was part of Captain William Goodrich’s company and rose to the rank of captain. He later fought in the War of 1812. He was educated by the Moravians, a Protestant sect, and in the 1790s became a leader of his tribe. In the letter, he pled for his tribe to be educated and integrated into our society. He advocated for his tribe to be educated in the protestant religion.  He states “we wish to imitate your ways of life – but is not in our power to do the suddenly.” Aupaumut saw a future for his tribe.

Aupaumut explains his frustration with the early Americans’ attitude toward the Stockbridge tribe. The Stockbridge was originally from the Housatonic River valley in Massachusetts. After the French and Indian war the Stockbridge-Makkecommak, an early spelling of the Mohican, tribe moved to north central New York by invitation of the Oneida Indians. Unfortunately, the Oneida land was sought after timber land. White settlers pressured the Stockbridge-Makkecommak and Oneidas to relocate to the Midwest shortly after the former’s arrival in New York. The tribes eventually settled in northern Wisconsin; where the Stockbridge joined with the Munsee tribe, who had also been relocated to the Midwest. Apaumut purpose was to persuade the lawmakers to protect American Indian rights to the land.

This letter was donated to Historic Huguenot Street by Mary Stokes-Jensen and Richard Stokes. It is suspected that Hendrick Aupaumut’s letter fell into the possession of Joseph Hasbrouck, who saved it. Joseph Hasbrouck was born March 3, 1743. He became a general in the Revolutionary war and served in a militia after the war. In 1777 he served supervisor of New Paltz; and 1791-1796 was a state legislator. He was buried on the farm of Joseph. L. Hasbrouck in Libertyville and was later was removed to New Paltz Rural Cemetery. He was in the senate around the same time that Aupaumut was leading his tribe, and the tribe was asked to leave the New York area. The letter was rediscovered and donated to HHS where it will be preserved in the archives. Thanks for reading!

Sources:

Aupaumut, Hendrick.” Aupaumut, Hendrick. Dartmouth College, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Hasbrouck Kenneth E, The Hasbrouck Family in America, Huguenot Society, 1952

Poucher, J Wilson. Terwilliger, Byron J. Old Gravestones of Ulster County New York. Ulster County Historical Society 1931.

Rindfleisch, Bryan. “The Stockbridge-Mohican Community, 1775-1783.” Journal of the American Revolution. Journal of the American Revolution, 28 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Stockbridge-Munsee History.” Stockbridge-Munsee History – Indian Country Wisconsin. Indian Country, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

“Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.” Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Ruth Lynda Deyo: A Hatshepsut of our Time

By Emily Finan

In honor of Women’s History Month, this week I’d like to honor one of our own remarkable Hudson Valley native women, Ruth Lynda Deyo, by examining some of her artifacts from within our archives. Deyo (1884-1960), born in Poughkeepsie to Peter Deyo and Ida Florence Woolsey Deyo, was a pianist prodigy.  While other three years olds were mastering the art of potty training, Deyo was mastering the art of piano composition by writing and performing original works at parlor concerts, church gatherings, and local musicals.1  She continued to hone her skills throughout her childhood and on September 8, 1893, a nine year old little Deyo captivated crowds with a recital of her own works in the Assembly Halls of the Women’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where she was compared to Mozart.2  By the age of 10, Deyo had studied under the great William Mason in New York and was instructed to travel to Europe to further augment her knowledge under the mentorship of Varette Stepanoff, a Letchetizky expert.3  Before Deyo was even a teenager she was a renowned concert pianist and world traveler, certainly making her more modern than most women of her time.

Deyo’s successful travels in Europe produced this program within our collection, following her series of concerts in London. Although the program is undated, it probably originates around the time of her growing success as a concert pianist in the early 1900’s and would have been distributed at her recitals. At this time, the Musical Times noted “the attractiveness of her playing” at Deyo’s November 7, 1905 performance at Aeolian Hall in London.4  Deyo’s name appears again in the Musical Times for her June 1, 1911 concert at London’s Bechstein Hall, where she performed a sonata in F sharp minor by Schumann.5 Within the pamphlet, one can detect Deyo’s extreme global prominence. London, Paris, Boston, Cincinnati, Canada, and New York all produced glowing praise over Deyo’s extraordinary talents.  However, not only was she a talented and driven composer and an experienced world traveler, but she was also deeply fascinated with Egyptian culture, which she sought to incorporate to her musical world.

Similar to her early interest in composition, from a young age Deyo was also captivated by Egyptian culture and operas. This fascination carried into her adult life through her desire to produce an Egyptian themed opera. At the age of eight, it was said that her favorite phrases were “once upon a time, they lived happily ever after and the word Egypt.”6  In pursuit of her ambitions, Deyo traveled to Egypt in 1924 to study ancient Egyptian history and to collect folk music to help her create historically authentic sets and costume designs for her Egyptian Opera, which she named Diadem of Stars.7 Therefore, Deyo can be considered a bit of a Renaissance woman of the arts world; she was a master of the piano and the art of composition, she immersed herself within various cultures, and she studied Egyptian art and architecture in order to accurately replicate it.  Deyo was also a bit eccentric.  She held strong convictions that she was actually a conduit between the Egyptian sun god, Ra, and the rest of the world.  She avowed that he spoke to her and told her she would soon meet the love of her life.8  Ironically enough, Ra was right and Deyo met her husband, Charles Dalton, soon after.

The inspiration for the subject of Deyo’s Egyptian themed opera may have been born in her childhood fascination or her direct connection with Ra, but it is more likely that it was also influenced by contemporary Egyptomania.  First coined in the early 19th century by architect Sir Soane in reaction to the contemporary decorative arts being influenced by the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt in 1798 and ensuing British invasion, the term in this time also refers to the explosion of fascination surrounding the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.9  Fatefully, Deyo was in Egypt at this moment and was good friends with Howard Carter, the excavator of King Tut’s tomb, and her connections allowed her to view artifacts before the rest of the world.  For instance, upon seeing the limestone head of Nefertiti, she asserted that she saw a resemblance to herself, which might explain why her opera focuses specifically on Nefertiti and Akhenaton.10  Our second Deyo artifact is a letter she wrote to her Aunt Gertrude, who lived in the Fort at Huguenot Street, concerning her Diadem of Stars opera.

This letter is dated August 28, 1937 and states that “King Farouk [of Egypt] expressed a wish to hear our opera, parts of it were sung for him at a reception given in his honor at the Egyptian Embassy in London in June” and that he loved it so much he “wanted it to be given in Cairo.” Deyo’s success and immense reputation is unmistakable.  For a woman of her time, she was truly remarkable.

Deyo is an impressive woman even for today’s standards, but even more so in her contemporary society.  When women were only just getting the right to vote, Deyo was becoming a master pianist and supporting herself through her legendary talents.  Deyo “performed frequently, composed, worked as a pioneering ethnomusicologist, and became something of and Egyptologist – all at a time when women engaged in few of these activities.”11  Deyo can be labeled a feminist of her time; her achievements undermine gender constraints and underscore the assertion that women are capable of any task, even those categorized as solely masculine.  Deyo performed the work of men before her such as Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart, surpassing their constraints by creating her own masterpieces.  She traveled the world and gained global acknowledgement and respect for her compositions.  Deyo also was an activist; she thought that her opera could change the world if she could only bring “Akhenaten’s vision of peace and prosperity” to her viewers.12  Deyo is an inspiration to all and the impeccable candidate for a closer examination to honor Women’s History Month.

Sears, Ann. “An American Composer Answers the Call to Egypt.Sonneck Society for American Music Bulletin, 23, no. 1. (Spring 1997).

2 Sears.

3 Sears.

4London Concerts and Recitals,”  The Musical Times, Vol. 46, No. 754 (Dec. 1, 1905): 809-81, Accessed March 8, 2017.

5London Concerts,”  The Musical Times, Vol. 52, No. 821 (Jul. 1, 1911): 471-473, Accessed March 8, 2017.

6 Sears.

7 Sears.

8 Wheaton College, Ruth Linda Deyo, video, 02:51, May 2016.

9 Brian A. Curran, “Review: Egyptomania: Egypt In Western Art, 1730-1930” by Jean-Marcel Humbert, Michael Pantazzi and Christiane Ziegler, The Art Bulletin Vol. 78, No. 4 (Dec., 1996): 739-745.

10 Sears.

11 Sears.

12 Wheaton College, Ruth Linda Deyo.

Conversation Pieces: Native American Basketry

By Lauren Diener

This week’s object is a basket, fashioned by a Native American tribe located in the Adirondack region. The area in question boasts a tumultuous history between the European settlers and the native New York tribes. The Adirondacks were never permanently settled by the natives, but were instead used by the Algonquin people and Mohawk nation as a means for hunting and travel. This system worked well for the natives, as they had a reliable source for food and passage. However, the harmonious relationship between the mountains and the natives came to a standstill with the arrival of European settlers. Thus began a struggle over the ownership of the land and all of the resources it possessed. The first European settlers to grace the Adirondack region were completely entranced by the amount of resources available. Due to the mass amount of deforestation and sheer population size, Europe had been stripped bare of its useful resources. To these Europeans, the Adirondacks represented a way to amass an enormous wealth. It wasn’t until the settlers encountered the natives that they realized that extracting the objects in question was not going to be a simple task. Frankly, the native’s “barbarous” behavior frightened the Europeans. A Jesuit recounts the Huron practice of burning oneself “for the pleasure of it,” although this act probably served a ritual purpose. As any first grader can tell you, the relationship that ensued was not amiable.

The end of the American Revolution left the native population decimated. Between the war and the diseases brought by the Europeans, the tribes had lost most of their livelihood. The land that they once cultivated was now inhabited by a new kind of people entirely. The natives quickly found that survival now meant doing business with the settlers. Exchanges between the two were always one-sided, as the colonists held all of the power. Europeans regarded the native made goods as a sort of novelty, and the demand for these “conversation pieces” grew.

Native American baskets became popular amongst European settlers. These baskets varied in size and design depending on what tribe they originated from. This article’s featured basket, most closely resembles the baskets fashioned by the Algonquin tribe. The Algonquin employed a technique utilizing splints to construct these baskets. It is under much scrutiny as to whether these peoples created this technique, or if it was borrowed from the colonists. According to experts, most of the splints are made of Ash, either black or brown, and White Oak. If grass was integrated into the infrastructure of said baskets, it would most likely be a type of sweet grass. What truly made the baskets special were the stamps that often adorned them. Natives would create these embellishments by carving shapes into potatoes that would later be dipped in dye and pressed onto the baskets.

It is remarkable that these baskets were able to convey two completely different feelings. To the natives who created it, the basket was the product of desperation. It was a reminder that they were stripped of their humanity, and forced to comply with the terms imposed on them. To the colonists, the basket was a statement piece that was to be envied by neighbors.

Sources:

Burdick, Neal , and Stephan Sulavik. “Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains.” Adirondack Explorer. July 2005. Accessed February 25, 2017.

Early Historic Accounts of Basket and Bag Weaving in the Northeast.” NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art. Accessed February 25, 2017.

Bruchac, Margaret , and Elizabeth Peng. “Potato Stamps and Ash Splints.” Penn Museum. May 5, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2017.

A Ladle’s Tale

My name is Hannah, and I am a curatorial intern at Huguenot Street. As a Senior art history and Italian Studies major and Ancient World minor at SUNY New Paltz, I am fascinated by language and the cultural material of previous generations and civilizations.

This week’s object is a slender ladle that I came across in collections storage. Although not necessarily an object that one would think of as incredibly noteworthy, I found myself drawn to its delicacy among the other beautiful, yet somewhat clunkier, teapots and dishes of the silverware cabinet. Additionally intrigued by the two-sided coin-shaped medallion at the bottom of the ladle’s head, I set out to explore its purpose, whether decorative, commemorative, or something else entirely. This exploration led to unexpected results. Far from being a simple silver object, this ladle, and many others like it can be tied to many facets of history. Indeed, it tells the story of parties and social gatherings, in addition to stories of public taste, migration from Europe to the Americas and even treason.

Although the use of ladles in Europe can be traced back to the Roman era, and the production of silver flatware is seen in Sheffield, England form as early as the thirteenth century, silver ladles were not wide-spread until the mid-18th century, following the rise in popularity of the silver soup tureen. Silver ladles were quickly produced in many shapes and sizes, and the number of ladle-type categories seems to have grown infinitely. Indeed, in addition to the silver soup ladle that was to serve as a companion to the soup tureen, we see the emergence of silver sauce ladles, stew ladles and slotted ladles, just to name a few. The slender and twisted handle of the ladle from our collection suggests that it would have either served punch or hot toddy, a warm bourbon-based beverage said to keep aches, pains, and the cold away.

Identifying our ladle as a punch or toddy ladle explains the presence of the coin- shaped medallion in the ladle’s bowl. This is in fact a true 18th-century English coin dating back to Queen Anne’s reign. As punch grew more and more popular following its introduction as a sweet and fanciful beverage among the European elite in the mid-17th century, ladles were required for proper service. 17th-century punch ladles, although not wide-spread across Europe, were substantial pieces of silver as they tended to be composed of a heavy round silver bowls and silver handles. The scarcity of silver in the 18th century, however, led to a change in punch ladle composition. Ladle heads became lighter, and their handles were carved from alternative materials, such as whalebone or horn. In order to counterbalance the loss in weight and strength due to the change of material composition, however, silversmiths began melding silver shillings in the bottom of their ladle’s bowls.

The increasing scarcity of silver in England led to the appearance of the Queen Anne style that was popular during and leading up to her reign from 1702 to 1714, and lasted well into the reign of her successor George I (1714-1727).  The Queen Anne style is characterized by its simplicity and lack of fanciful decoration. The slenderness of our ladle corresponds to this style, and is therefore indicative of its age. Additionally, we know that this ladle must date back to at least 1709, as this is the date indicated by the coin. Indeed, inscribed in Latin on either side, we know that it dates from the middle of Queen Anne’s reign. Anna Dei Gracia (Anne by the grace of god) flanks her portrait on one side, and MAG. BRI. FR. ET HIB. REG. 1709, (Magna Britannia, Francia et Hibernia Regina 1709 – Queen of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, 1709) surrounds the insignia of the shield of Great Britain following the union of Scotland with England, Wales, and Ireland.

Interestingly, the scarcity of silver in England in the early 18th-century led to an increased and uncontrollable coinage vandalism. Indeed, silversmiths melted down coins, or acquired silver illegally from “opportunists who amassed bullion by clipping small pieces of silver from coins.” Many of the silver coins in circulation at the time were in fact marked by small chips, and the shortage of silver meant that the government could not replace the vandalized coins. Since the early seventeenth century, any form of coin vandalism had significant political connotations with severe outcomes, as it was seen as an attack on the monarchy and an act of high treason. If an individual was found guilty of these crimes he could be hanged, drawn, and quartered if male, or strangled and burned if female.  Needless to say, it is unsurprising that the “coined” punch and toddy ladles that come down to us today are, for the most part, unmarked and unidentifiable in terms of their creator.

Sources:

Cointrust. Queen Anne Coins. Accessed March 1, 2017.

Collectors Weekly. Antique Sterling Silver Ladles. Accessed March 1, 2017.

McNab, Jessie. Silver. New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1981.

Raising Sceptors.” Coins, Crime and History. Accessed March 1, 2017.

Get Real: Rachel Maria Hasbrouck’s Rendition of The Dalby Gate, Skane

Hey there, my name is Emily Finan and I’m the new Curatorial/Collections intern this semester!  I’m currently a Junior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in art history and minoring in history.

This week’s object is a painting by Rachel Maria Hasbrouck. The oil on canvas is dated 1892, and is a reproduction of a renowned oil painting originally created by Hugo Salmson in 1884 entitled, The Dalby Gate, Skane.  Originally exhibited in the “Modern Young Girls” exhibit in Musée d’Orsay from June 6 to September 24, 1989, Salmson’s piece portrays the exhibit’s theme of the emerging young heroine, common in the contemporary literature of Victor Hugo. Salmson depicts a snapshot of mundane life in the Swedish countryside, portraying a peasant woman holding an infant, flanked by an adolescent boy and girl.  Each figure, save the young girl, is entranced in their own personal actions; the young boy is fixated on counting his bright red berries, the peasant woman faces away from the viewer and watches the infant in her arms who is also engrossed with the red berries.  The young girl, however, stares straight out, breaking the boundaries of the canvas and initiating an interaction with the viewer.  The young girls direct gaze is probably the reason for the painting’s inclusion in the exhibition in Paris, a town which Rachel Maria Hasbrouck often frequented.

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Daughter of Lodewick and Rebecca Hasbrouck, Rachel Maria Hasbrouck was born January 20, 1837, lived until May 23, 1911, was never married and enjoyed a fruitful life engaged in the art world.  Until the ripe age of seventy-two, Hasbrouck remained involved in the art world at the communal level.  In 1909, at the town of Poughkeepsie’s celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River, Hasbrouck was chosen to commemorate the Hudson Fulton Celebration by sketching the town’s “Court of Honor,” in full view of a crowd of spectators. As a distinguished artist, Rachel even had her own studio above the First National Bank on Main Street (although it is unclear whether it was New Paltz’s, Marbletown’s or Poughkeepsie’s,) and “studied art with the masters in Paris, among others with Harry Thompson, a very celebrated master.” Her Parisian travels inevitably led her to the exploration and fascination with the Realism art movement, as The Dalby Gate, Skane is one of three realist based reproductions by Hasbrouck within the collection at Historic Huguenot Street.

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The Realist art movement was a product of the Revolution of 1848, corresponding with the fresh desire for democracy through focusing its subject matter on modern subjects of everyday life. Often depicting manual labor, the peasantry and rural landscapes, Realism sought to illustrate the “gritty detail of the present-day existence of humble people,” which placed the lives of working class into view, and elevated their statuses.

Simultaneously, Paris was also the center of another contemporary art movement: Impressionism.  Innovated in Paris in 1874 by the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers etc., Impressionism also sought to depict images of modern life but with vastly different techniques.  Through “short broken brushstrokes that barely convey forms, pure unblended colors and an emphasis on the effects of light,” Impressionism revolutionized the depiction of contemporary rural and suburban scenes that realism had portrayed through more traditional methods.

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It is curious, then, that Hasbrouck was progressive enough to travel to Paris, the center of the art world which must have been fully engulfed in the fervor of Impressionism, yet still chose to emulate a more traditional art movement.  Although Impressionism and Realism contrast immensely in terms of style, both depict similar subject matter that Hasbrouck seemed to be interested in.  It is a mystery why Hasbrouck would not also be engulfed in the newly developed Impressionist art movement and why she purposefully turned back to more traditional styles.  Is her choice of reproduction a reflection of her traditional roots as an American, or did she just simply admire the aesthetics of Realism?  The answer is a mystery.

Works Cited

Aged Artist at Work.”  Poughkeepsie Eagle, August 27, 1909.  Accessed February 14, 2017.

 Musée d’Orsay.  “Modern Young Girls.”  Accessed February 17, 2017.

 The Hasbrouck Family in America Volumes I & II, Edition 3.  “Rachel Maria Hasbrouck.”  New Paltz, NY: Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, NY, 1986.

The Met.  “Impressionism: Art and Modernity.”  Accessed February 17, 2017.

The Met.  “Nineteenth-Century French Realism.”  Accessed February, 17, 2017.

 

 

 

Are Dollhouses Toys?

By: Madison Petrella

This dollhouse was recently found in the Deyo House’s attic, having previously lived in the previous interpretation’s toy room. Unlike the typical lavish dollhouse that comes to mind, this one was fashioned out of a crate and is rather small, consisting of four “rooms”. Although a bit worn down, small details are still present, like the design of the wallpaper and the kitchen tiles. This was clearly a dollhouse that was meant for play, not dissimilar from dollhouses nowadays, yet a far cry from the original intention for these tiny houses that have come to be thought of as toys.

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Dollhouses are not an invention of recent history. The most popular span for the dollhouse was between 1700 to 1900.1 However, they were popular before then and clearly have remained so. Centuries ago, the toy was not referred to as “dollhouse” and although they had a few different purposes, they were not meant as toys. Typically dollhouses, called baby houses, were designed as exact replicas of the owner’s estate and were intended to be a representation of that person’s wealth. Dozens of highly skilled artisans would work on these tiny homes costing thousands of dollars and would include the smallest details found in the real home. Some dollhouses had wine cellars with bottles of real wine; others were equipped with running water and electricity.2 Sometimes dollhouses were used as a way for young girls to learn how to run a household, like 17th century Nuremburg Kitchens.3 Dutch dollhouses beginning in the 17th century, called cabinet houses, were designed to mirror the homes of brides to be given to her by her new husband to help alleviate homesickness.4 And Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist, believes that women, restricted to their homes and societal expectations, used dollhouses as a way to escape into a dream world much like young girls today.5 Mass production and cheaper costs in the 19th century contributed to the dollhouse’s evolution into a toy.6

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There seems to always have been a fascination with the idea of a tiny world, whether it was reflected in these houses or in stories like Hans Christian Anderson’s Thumbelina in 1835 or recent movies like 20th Century Fox’s Epic in 2013. In the past, the creations of these tiny homes with their exquisite detail were works of art created by highly skilled craftsmen. Nowadays, although many dollhouses can be found in toy stores, made of plastic and mass-produced, there are many shops around the world keeping alive the tradition of adult dollhouses and the skilled artistry their creation requires.

Sources:

1“The history of doll houses.” Boomini. Accessed January 17, 2017.

2Ibid.

3Cooley, Nicole. “Dollhouses Weren’t Invented for Play.” The Atlantic. July 22, 2016.

Accessed January 17, 2017.

4“The history of doll houses.” Boomini. Accessed January 17, 2017.

5Burton, Jessie. “The miraculous healing power of a doll’s house.” The Independent.

December 10, 2014. Accessed January 17, 2017.

6Cooley, Nicole.