Growing Interests: Expanding the collections at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

jbitenc Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts

In 1926 John D. Rockefeller Jr. formally embarked on the project that would become the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation by purchasing Philip Ludwell’s house of about 1775 on Duke of Gloucester Street. That acquisition, the first “antique” in Colonial Williamsburg’s collection, came to play a pivotal role in the founding of what would eventually be the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

Treasury Notes

Furniture & Decorative Arts

With a boost from Broadway, the caretakers of Hamilton Grange cast new light on the charms of Alexander Hamilton’s once bucolic home. The Broadway musical Hamilton has created something of a second American Revolution, reviving American promise in the person of a penniless bastard orphan who washed up on these shores and be came…Alexander Hamilton! It is this reprise of …

Mourning Becomes Them: The death of children in nineteenth-century American art


“In the midst of life we are in death”  These familiar words, which marched across sermons and samplers alike in the early decades of the American republic, surely resonated with sixteen-year-old Charlotte Sheldon in the summer of 1796. Sheldon was studying at Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy when she heard the news: Polly Buel, another student, had died. Sheldon put down her studies …

The substance of remembering: A collector’s quest

Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts, Living with Antiques

Can there be more than one Robert Hicks operating out of a cabin called “Labor in Vain” somewhere near Nashville, Tennessee? You might be forgiven for thinking so. The Robert Hicks whose essay appears below is also a best-selling novelist (The Widow of the South, A Separate Country, and the forthcoming The Orphan Mother); a former music publisher and artist manager for a …

Bringing back Olana

Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts

The fiftieth anniversary of the rescue of Church’s exotic masterpiece  finds it and its spectacular landscape more popular than ever with lovers of art, architecture, and ecology.   View looking south to the Hudson River from the bell tower of the main house at Olana. Andy Wainwright 2004.  Just south of Hudson, New York, a signpost on Route 9G marks the …

On Books: New and Noteworthy

aroseshapiro Books

Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman by Margaret K. Hofer and Roberta J. M. Olson (New-York Historical Society in association with D. Giles). 376 pp., color and b/w illus.  There’s nowt so queer as folk,” according to the venerable English comment on the vagaries of human personality. Indeed, when the Polish-born American sculptor Elie …

George Washington’s brush with immortality: The hair relics of a sainted hero

Editorial Staff Furniture & Decorative Arts

The eighteenth century had no pollsters to assess what voters really thought about their politicians, but even without such data, the eulogistic editorials that announced George Washington’s death in December 1799 make clear that the country’s first president had assumed a status as close to sainthood as anyone has ever done in the United States. John James Barralet’s print The …

Prince Demah Barnes: Portraitist and slave in colonial Boston

Editorial Staff Art

At first glance, the small oil portrait of a handsome man in a flowered dressing gown looked somewhat unprepossessing (Fig. 1). Hanging on the wall of a dealer’s booth at an antiques show in 2010, it had a “folksy” appeal, but wasn’t an obvious candidate for acquisition by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, as a curator in the midst …

House of the spirits

Editorial Staff Art

In time, Sylvanus Griswold Morley would be known as the brilliant Mayanist who exca­vated Chichén Itzá and, controversially, as Agent 53, a scientist who used his Central Amer­ican fieldwork as a cover for spying on behalf of the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War I.1 But in 1910 the young Harvard-trained archae­ologist whose interest in the ancient Southwest brought …