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.

On Display: Nicholas Maes’ “A Frugal Repast”

By Carly Benedict

Historic Huguenot Street is currently showing the fascinating exhibit, Marking the Occasion: Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman. The exhibit celebrates the influence of Dutch culture on the Hudson Valley and in particular on the Huguenot settlers by commemorating the art of Dutch silver spoons from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Huguenots first arrived in the Dutch colony of New Netherland and settled in the town of Wiltwijck (today’s Kingston) before going on to found New Paltz. In this new Dutch environment, Huguenots were influenced by their culture and way of life. They probably came into contact with many forms of Dutch arts and crafts, including silver spoons like the ones displayed in the exhibition.

The importance of these skillfully crafted silver spoons in Dutch culture was great. They were given to commemorate important events like births, marriages, and even deaths. They were highly prized for their artistry but also for their symbol of wealth. For these reasons, the spoons were often used as heirlooms in families and passed down from generation to generation. This is how the silver spoons and their tradition made its way to the New World and to the Hudson Valley. Silver spoons were so important that they made appearances in other art forms, like painting. The exhibit features four contemporary Dutch paintings from the collection of Jonathan Z. Friedman that all feature people taking part in a meal in some way. These works give a glimpse into Dutch life during the 17th century and show the cultural context surrounding the spoons.

Dutch painting has a rich history of its own. During the 17th century, the Netherlands was experiencing a golden age. They had recently won their independence from Spain and were thriving economically and culturally. The Dutch were proud of their prosperity and expressed their feelings of pride in their many artistic traditions. Painting during this time took off and became a refined and highly respected craft. Artists honed their skills and made names for themselves among the social elite that funded and purchased many of their works.

Portraits and genre paintings, or paintings showing scenes of everyday life were particularly popular in the Netherlands. The paintings featured in the exhibit fall perfectly into this category of genre paintings. One of the paintings features an old woman eating a meal. It is called “A Frugal Repast” and was created by the Dutch painter Nicholas Maes. Maes lived from 1693 to 1691 during the Dutch Golden Age. He was a pupil of Rembrandt and began working in the famous artist’s studio in 1648. It is from Rembrandt that he learned to use dark shadows and glowing colors to evoke the feeling of a dramatic light. He mostly did domestic genre scenes, with his favorite subjects being women spinning, reading the Bible, and preparing a meal, like “A Frugal Repast”.

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Much of Dutch painting, like the works of Nicholas Maes, seems ordinary and unassuming at first glance. On the surface they are depictions of things that people could have seen on any given day. It seems, when you look further, and really observe how the artists took such care to render these scenes and infuse them with vibrant colors and glowing light, they are really doing something bigger. They are capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary, the magnificence in the quiet. They serve to remind us that the scenes of everyday life are things of beauty that we should take time to appreciate instead of passing over them and taking them for granted.

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Looking back at this time in history from today’s perspective, it seems the spoons are doing the exact same thing. On one hand, they were modeled after the utilitarian objects that people used to nourish themselves every day, but on the other hand they were crafted to be elaborate mementos of significant events and familial status. Although it may not have been their intended purpose, these spoons, in their very essence, commemorate the extraordinary lives that people lived every day. It is through this commemoration that we today can understand what life was like for these people that lived long ago.

This weekend, collector George Way will be on site for a champagne reception to discuss the history and significance of the collection. During the reception, guests will have the opportunity to handle the spoons that at on display and view them up-close.

Sources:

Nicolaes Maes.” Rijks Museum. Web. 8 December, 2016.

Wheelock, Arthur K. “Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century.” National Gallery of Art. Web. 8 December, 2016.

Historic Huguenot Street Celebrates Dutch Culture with Silver Spoon ExhibitHistoric Huguenot Street. N.p., 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

On Display: 19th Century Oil Painting of New Paltz Patentee Descendant Deborah Bloomer DuBois

19th Century Oil Painting of
New Paltz Patentee Descendant 
Deborah Bloomer DuBois
Restored and On View at Historic Huguenot Street

Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce the restoration of a 19th-century oil on canvas portrait of Deborah Bloomer DuBois, made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and Greater Hudson Heritage Network Conservation Treatment Program. The restored painting may be viewed at the DuBois Fort Visitor Center during regular weekend hours now through December 18.

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“Yet to be attributed to a specific artist, this portrait is a charming representation of demure femininity and ably replicates the clothing, hairstyles, hand-made lace, and jewelry common in the 1830s in the Hudson Valley,” said Josephine Bloodgood, HHS Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs.

According to Bloodgood, the painting was donated to the HHS Permanent Collection in 2015 by Nathanial DuBois Clark. When the painting was first received, the name of the sitter was unknown; however, based on the paintings provenance and through genealogical research in the HHS Archives, the subject was identified as Deborah Bloomer DuBois (1800-1861), wife of Nathanial DuBois, a third great grandson of Louis DuBois (1626-1696), one of New Paltz’s original patentees. Nathanial was also the grandson of Revolutionary War Major Lewis DuBois who, around 1760, established a farm in Marlboro, New York in the southeast corner of Ulster County. While specific details about Deborah Bloomer DuBois herself are yet to be discovered, the portrait helps tell the story of how descendants of Huguenot Street migrated beyond the original New Paltz patent in search of new opportunities and eventually established homes throughout the Hudson Valley.

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Since its acquisition by HHS, the painting was cleaned, relined, and stabilized by Yost Conservation, LLC. Yost Conservation specializes in fine oil paintings from the 18th through 20th centuries, having provided services for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, as well as the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Florence Griswold Museum. Over the years, Thomas Yost and his team have conserved over 20,000 paintings from across the United States that represent all major schools of American Art.

The Conservation Treatment Program is a partnership of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network that provides support for treatment procedures by professional conservators to aid in stabilizing and preserving objects in collections of museums, historical and cultural organizations in New York State.

On Display: Marking the Occasion

Marking the Occasion:
Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman

DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
October 1 – December 18, 2016

hhs-dutch-spoon-2Historic Huguenot Street celebrates the abiding influence of the Dutch New Netherland colony in the Hudson Valley with Marking the Occasion, an exhibit centering around 17th- and 18th-century Dutch silver spoons from the collections of Jonathan Z. Friedman and George Way. The catalogue of these ornate and fascinating objects and accompanying remarks were prepared by Kevin Tierney, Silver Consultant for Sotheby’s.

When the French Huguenots who founded New Paltz first arrived in what was then New Netherland, they initially settled in the Dutch town of Wiltwijck (today’s Kingston) in the 1660s and 1670s. The Dutch influence on the Huguenot settlers is apparent in the architecture of the stone houses on Huguenot Street, as well as in its collections of artifacts, recipes, legal documents, and furniture.

Individual spoons became plentiful in Holland in the 17th century and later. They were given as presents to mark births and marriages, but also death and special events. For each occasion, appropriate finials were chosen, with favorites including Plenty or Bounty (a female figure holding a bouquet and frond), Charity (with its family symbolism of mother and children), Hope (a female figure with an anchor), William and Mary (suggesting patriotism), and Apostles (chosen for a new child’s name). The finials were cast from molds which were used for years. Spoons fashioned in the towns of Friesland had a similar range of finials, but often had openwork stems frequently decorated with cherub heads. The shape of the bowls moved from fig shape to egg shape, the latter resembling the bowls of tablespoons.

The exhibit is enhanced by the inclusion of comparative examples of spoons of varying types from England, America, and elsewhere, as well as carved wooden spoon racks and four period Dutch paintings. A selection of Delft pieces from the collections of Mary Etta Schneider and Sanford Levy further enrich the display.

Marking the Occasion: Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman will be on display in the DuBois Fort from October 1 through December 18 during regular open hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

On Display: Slavery in New Paltz

Slavery in New Paltz
From the HHS Permanent Collection & Archives
DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
September 9 – 25, 2016

This exhibit centers around wills and other documents dating from the late 17th century through the early 19th century from the Historic Huguenot Street Archives, as well as a late 18th century slave collar from the HHS Permanent Collection. A highlight of the display is the account book of John Hasbrouck that records his work as a freeman, as well as the wages and goods he received as payment between 1830 and 1839.

John Hasbrouck's Account Book

The first records of slave acquisition by the French Huguenot founders of New Paltz began in 1674 with the purchase of two enslaved people in Kingston. The Huguenot families who settled New Paltz are known to have enslaved Africans, as evidenced by the documents on display. Contrary to the common misconception that slavery was practiced in the U.S. only in the South, Northern states were also dependent on enslaved African labor in the 17th and 18th centuries to build their homes and communities, to work their farms, and to serve as domestic servants and skilled artisans. Slavery was practiced in what is now New York as early as 1626 by the Dutch and was perpetuated by the British through the 18th century. Even after the American Revolution, slavery was not legally abolished in New York State until 1827.

A descendant of Huguenot Street, Mary Etta Schneider, has said, “It is important to acknowledge the paradox inherent to this community’s use of enslaved African labor. My ancestors fled France for religious and political freedom. Before leaving France they saw their own families tortured, enslaved, and killed. Yet these emigrants came to the New World and, for their own personal gain, forced other human beings to labor against their will.” By exploring the narrative of Northern slavery through tours, programs, and exhibits such as this, Historic Huguenot Street hopes to reveal the true story of the street, not just from the perspective of slave owners, but from the perspective of those enslaved who also helped build our community.

E. Hardenbergh Slave Collar

On Display: “Powder Horns: An Early American Art Form”

Powder Horns:
An Early American Art Form
From the HHS Permanent Collection
DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
August 9 – September 25, 2016

Throughout the early wars in America, powder horns were a close companion to colonial weapons such as the musket, fowler, flintlock rifle, and pistol. Powder horns were portable containers used primarily for gunpowder and made out of large animal horns, commonly that of cows. If made correctly, the tool was airtight, waterproof, and spark-proof, with caps on both ends removed to funnel powder into the gun. The powder horn was introduced to America from Europe, where they were developed alongside gunpowder. Horns were easily and cheaply obtained.

1985223001-5Although they served a vital utilitarian purpose on the battlefield, powder horns also functioned as unique works of art. European powder horns were unembellished, while American horns were engraved with images, regimental mottos, references to military campaigns, or maps.  The technique became known as scrimshaw; a form of scrollwork, engraving, and carving done in bone or ivory. While some decorated powder horns were inscribed by the owner, some were made by professional engravers for sale. Many times, horns decorated by professionals had delicate lines and featured a cartouche, a carved ornamental table in which the owner would inscribe their name or initials.

Powder Horns: An Early American Art Form features seven powder horns from the HHS Permanent Collection dating to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Both owner and professionally-made examples of scrimshaw  are featured, as well as horns with provenance to descendants of Huguenot Street patentees.

This exhibit was researched and prepared by HHS Curatorial Department interns Ciara Bohan, Madison Petrella, and Meredith Salton.

Life Before Photography

By Deanna Schiavone

This week we will be looking at a silhouette of the bust of Mary Clinton in the late 18th century. The silhouette is oval within the original black wooden frame. Clinton’s image was made by cutting light paper to resemble her silhouette and framing it against a black silk. This is known as a hollow-cut silhouette because the light colored positive middle drops away to leave the negative against dark paper or fabric.1 During the late 1700s, Neoclassicism inspired an interest in this simplified form of portraiture from profile images from ancient Egypt and Greece.2

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The three basic types of silhouettes are painted, hollow-cut, or cut-out and they can further be divided into busts or full figure.3 Artisans free-cut, traced or used machinery, such as a physiognotrace machines, in order to produce these keepsakes.4 People got these to have as family treasures, to wear, or just to simply use to remember a loved one. Sittings took five minutes or less and by having one copy they could be remade easily.5 These were cheaper forms of portrait miniatures that artisans produced throughout the countryside when they were tight on money. They were popular until the world of photography took its first form as daguerreotypes.

Mary Clinton was born in 1773 to General James and Mary Clinton. Her Father was a Major General in the Continental Army.6 One of her siblings was Governor DeWitt Clinton, the father of the Erie Canal. She was married twice, once to Robert Burrage Norton and then to Ambrose Spencer.7  With Norton she had 2 children until his death in 1803. In 1808, she married Spencer, politician and judge, as his second wife. Within that year, Mary died and Spencer married her sister Katherine.

The silhouette is on display in our new exhibit, Capturing the Likeness: 19th-Century Portrait Miniatures. Every round of curatorial interns at HHS has the opportunity to curate an exhibit to be displayed in the DuBois Fort. This semester, I researched portrait miniatures along with Miriam Ehrlich and we are excited for this exhibit to finally be open! It will be on display in the DuBois Fort until June 21.

1 Knipe, Penley. “Paper Profiles: American Portrait Silhouettes.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 41, no. 3. American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Washington, DC, 2002. 203-223.

2 Ibid.

3 Welter, Lisa. “Types, Techniques and Analysis of Silhouettes.” Arlington Historical Society: Arlington, MA, 2013. Web. 5 May 2016.

4 Ibid.

5Portrait Miniatures: Other Types of Small Portraiture.”  Victoria and Albert Museum: London, 2016. Web. 5 May 2016.

6Mary Spencer.” Geni.com. MyHeritage Ltd. Web. 5 May 2016.

7Mary Clinton Letter to her father, James Clinton, MS 2958.1984.” The New-York Historical Society: New York. Web. 5 May 2016.

On Display: “Capturing the Likeness: 19th-Century Portrait Miniatures”

Capturing the Likeness:
19th Century Portrait Miniatures
Exhibition by the Curatorial Department
DuBois Fort Visitor Center, 81 Huguenot Street
May 7 – July 6, 2016

henryhasbrouckbyjohncarlin1The art of miniature portrait-making came to America from Europe in the 18th century. It was highly popular until the late 19th century when photography took hold. Originally, the idea of painting miniatures came from two sources: portrait metals from classical antiquity and illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. In most cases, the likenesses were given to loved ones and valued as treasures. Portrait miniatures took just as long to make as full-sized paintings because of the necessary small detail. Most of the time, the medium was watercolor on ivory and pieces were framed in cases that could be opened and closed. Miniaturists traveled the countryside to make profit by creating silhouettes as well, an option that was cheaper than a miniature oil or watercolor.

Capturing the Likeness: 19th-Century Portrait Miniatures features nine portrait miniatures and silhouettes. This exhibit explores both the creation of the miniatures as well as the prominent early 19th-century Hudson Valley families that they depict.  Two of the major families in this exhibit are the family members of Brigadier General Henry Cornelius Hasbrouck and the ancestors of Governor DeWitt Clinton. Works by prominent artists of the time, John Carlin and Anthony Meucci, are presented.

On Display: “Steiff and Friends: Vintage Teddy Bears”

Steiff and Friends:
Vintage Teddy Bears
Selections from the Collection of Sanford Levy and
the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection
November 7 – December 20, 2015

The Historic Huguenot Street Curatorial Department has developed a new exhibition in honor of the winter holiday season. Now on display in the DuBois Fort Visitor Center (81 Huguenot Street), “Steiff and Friends: Vintage Teddy Bears” presents a selection of early-20th century stuffed animal toys from the Collection of Sanford Levy  (antiques dealer and HHS Board Vice President) and the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection.

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The German company Steiff rose to fame in the late-19th century. German seamstress Margarete Steiff laid the foundation for the now-internationally renowned company by founding a felt business in 1880. In 1902, the company created the first bear with jointed arms and legs. In 1904, the company created the world’s first stuffed bear with movable limbs, the “Bear 55 PB”, the original Teddy Bear. By 1907, almost a million Steiff teddy bears had been produced and the company became an important proponent of the “international teddy bear craze.” Other toy companies, such as the Ideal Toy Company, rose simultaneously and fed off of the popularized stuffed bear demand. Today, Steiff continues to produce stuffed toys, but none are as special to collectors as the original early-20th century bears.

Steiff has developed a base of international admirers and collectors over the past century. The Museum Shop now offers a variety of collectible Steiff bears, following the tradition of quality of those featured in this exhibition. There are eleven styles of Steiff bears available, including 3 collectible replicas of styles from 1906, 1909, and 1920, and a holiday bear.

The exhibition will be on display in the DuBois Fort Visitor Center through December 20, open to the public on weekends 10 – 5 pm. The Museum Shop is also open on weekends 10 – 5 pm.

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