Here’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:
The Syracuse University Archives has completed the processing of the George Fisk Comfort Family Collection, dating from 1822 to 1956, which contains a significant amount of material from George Fisk Comfort (1833-1910), the first dean of the (now defunct) College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University, and was involved in the establishment the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as what is now the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. The collection also includes material associated with Silas Comfort, a Methodist minister and Anna Manning Comfort. Various items, such as letters and family photographs, were digitized and are available in the online finding aid. Read more →
Just about any morning, cars as well as trucks race back and forth through the intersection of Stone Castle Road and Route 17K in the Town of Montgomery. Many of these commuters, shoppers, or moms driving their children to school are oblivious to the ruins that stand right off to the side, in a wood lot, of the rather busy part of this Orange County road.
Only while stopping along the road, some years ago, I happened upon the remains of what seemed to have once been a beautiful mansion. A blue New York State Education Department sign alerts people that this skeleton, almost lost in the woods, was the site of “the Colden Mansion built of stone in 1767 by Cadwallader Colden, Jr.” How many families, like the Coldens, can boast about having Royal Surveyors, Lieutenant Governors, Acting Governors of New York, noted scientists, and even one of the first female botanists in the Americas among them? Read more →
A Civil War Dialogue will take place this evening, Wednesday, April 10, at 6:00 PM ($25). Novelist Geraldine Brooks and historian Tony Horwitz have both written about the Civil War-and are married to one another. They will discuss their work as well as their different approaches to the Civil War and the writing of history. The discussion will be moderated by Bill Goldstein, book critic for NBC’s Weekend Today in New York. Read more →
The New-York Historical Society is displaying Mort Kunstler’s “Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry” until January 17, 2012. Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” commemorates General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on December 25 in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. His original painting is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mort Kunstler, a New York artist known for his historical paintings, has created what he considers a more historically accurate version of Washington crossing the Delaware River. The painting was unveiled at the New-York Historical Society on Monday, December 26, the date in 1776 that Washington led his troops into battle in Trenton after crossing the Delaware.
David Hackett Fischer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Washington’s Crossing, and featured speaker at the unveiling, says Kunstler’s version is “quite accurate” and “got more right than any other image.”
The original painting shows the Betsy Ross flag flying, however that flag was not adopted until 1777- Mr. Kunstler’s version has no flag. The original painting depicts the action taking place in the middle of the day, though the actual crossing took place during a stormy night. Based on historical research, the new painting shows Washington and company in a flat-bottomed ferry boat rather than on a row boat.
On that last detail however, there has been some debate. Rick Spilman, writing in the Old Salt Blog, noted:
“The problem is that most historians think that the American crossing of the Delaware used Durham boats, large flat-bottomed boats which hauled cargo such as ore, pig-iron, timber, and produce from upcountry mines, forests and farms down the Delaware River to Philadelphia’s thriving markets and port. Robert Durham, an engineer at the Durham Iron Works in Reiglesville, Pennsylvania, reputedly designed a prototype for these large cargo boats as early as 1757. Washington wrote to Governor Livingston of New Jersey, directing him to secure “Boats and Craft, all along the Delaware side…particularly the Durham Boats” for his anticipated crossing.”
In any event, you’ll have just one day to compare the two paintings first hand. The newly restored Luetze painting will be unveiled in a new frame in the New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum on January 16, the day before the new Kunstler painting comes down at the New-York Historical Society.
Illustrations: Above, Mort Kunstler’s “Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry”- below, Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 “Washington Crossing the Delaware”.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the completion of a collaborative project coordinated by the Met’s Thomas J. Watson Library to preserve and digitize the early exhibition catalogs of Knoedler & Company, a renowned art gallery in New York.
In total, we digitized 898 catalogs, checklists, and unpublished materials from the Watson, Arcade, and Knoedler collections, comprising approximately 14,000 pages of content created between 1869 and 1946. Many items include extensive handwritten annotations- in several cases, more than one copy of a particular catalog was digitized to capture these unique additions. Knoedler & Company was established in 1857 and has been among the most important art dealers in New York City for a century and a half. Following the pattern of Watson Library’s successful collaboration with the Frick Art Reference Library on the Macbeth Gallery project, we worked with Knoedler & Company and the Arcade libraries (Frick Art Reference Library, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library) to identify Knoedler exhibition catalogs, pamphlets, and checklists in our collections to create a series that is as complete as possible.
Access to these items is available through the libraries’ respective online catalogs, Watsonline and Arcade, as well as the OCLC library cooperative catalog, WorldCat. The catalogs’ contents are full-text searchable in Watson Library’s digital content management system, CONTENTdm.
The project was made possible by the Lifchez Stronach Fund for Preservation at the Thomas J. Watson Library and funds from the Frick Art Reference Library.
Illustration: An image from the Catalogue of an exhibition of woodcuts by Albrecht Durer : March 6th to April 7th, 1928.
David A. Krol has been named Executive Director of Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, New York, effective immediately. Most recently Krol served as Deputy Director of the Lobkowicz Collections in the Czech Republic – a family collection of four castles, paintings by Brueghel, Canaletto and Velazquez, musical instruments and autograph scores by Gluck, Mozart and Beethoven, rare firearms and decorative arts, a 65,000-volume library and a large family archive. Krol played a role from 2006 to 2011 in the planning and management of the family’s museum at the recently restituted Lobkowicz Palace in Prague.
Krol will be responsible to the Board of Directors for leading and managing the collections, finances, facilities, development, programs and staff of Boscobel, which is situated in the heart of the Hudson River Valley. Boscobel is also the site of the the annual summer Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
“I am honored and delighted by the prospect of assisting the Board and staff of Boscobel in heightening awareness of this architectural and historical treasure, beloved by regional visitors and supporters, but perhaps less-well-known to a wider national, and indeed international, audience,” Krol said in a prepared statement. “The mission of Boscobel includes an important environmental and conservation outreach to the Hudson River Valley. I am pleased to bring over thirty years of museum experience and expertise, at institutions large and small, foreign and domestic, to make Boscobel a destination for visitors of all ages.”
Previous to his assignment in Prague, Krol worked eighteen years in senior management positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art followed by four years at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Born and raised in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he was educated at Regis High School in New York City, holds a BA in English, Latin and Ancient Greek from Boston College in Massachusetts and attended Oxford University in the UK.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives has announced that a newly processed collection is now open for scholarly research, The Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers, 1852-1903 (bulk, 1868-1903). New York financier Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819-1902) was a member of the Provisional Committee to establish a museum of art in New York City (1869), an early Trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1871-1902), Treasurer (1883-1889), and its second President (1889-1902). For over three decades Marquand spent his fortune carefully acquiring artwork to decorate his Madison Avenue mansion and to enlarge the Metropolitan’s then modest holdings. The Henry Gurdon Marquand Papers contain correspondence with artists and dealers, receipts, inventories, and notes that document his activity as an art collector and patron of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The bulk of the correspondence is with the British artists George Henry Boughton and Frederic Leighton, and dealers, Martin Colnaghi, Charles W. Deschamps, Wolfgang Helbig, Robert Jenkins Nevin, John Charles Robinson, H. Herbert Smith, and Thomas Humphry Ward. Most dates from 1868-1898, Marquand’s most active period of commissioning and collecting works of art for his home and for eventual donation to the Metropolitan.
The objective of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives is to collect, organize, and preserve in perpetuity the corporate records and official correspondence of the Museum, to make the collection accessible and provide research support, and to further an informed and enduring understanding of the Museum’s history. Archives holdings include Board of Trustees records, legal documents, Museum publications, office files of selected Museum staff, architectural drawings, press clippings, and ephemera. The Archives is accessible to Museum staff and to qualified scholarly researchers at the graduate level and above. Requests for access should be sent via email, and should include a brief summary of the research project, an outline of sources already consulted and a curriculum vitae or resume. Access is granted at the discretion of Archives staff, and certain materials may be restricted. The archives can be contacted via e-mail at: email@example.com. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.
On Saturday, March 12th and Sunday, March 13th, the focus at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz will be decorative arts. Peter M. Kenny, Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will present “Rensselaerwyck Revisitus,” an insider’s glimpse of the acquisition and installation of a quintessential New York Dutch room in the context of the most comprehensive collection of American historic interiors in any art museum in the country. The Met’s New York Dutch Room comes from an 18th century house built by Daniel Peter Winne (1720–1800) on the famed Van Rensselaer Manor outside of present-day Albany. The architecture of furnishing of this room shares much with the museum houses at Historic Huguenot Street. Kenny, who is currently working on a book about Duncan Phyfe, is the Ruth Bigelow Wriston Curator and Administrator for American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kenny’s talk, which is part of the Second Saturdays series, will be offered on Saturday, March 12th at 7pm. There is an $15 charge ($12 for Friends of Huguenot Street).
On Sunday, March 13th, from 1 to 3pm, Sanford Levy, owner of Jenkinstown Antiques in New Paltz, will be joining Leslie LeFevre-Stratton, Curator of Collections at Historic Huguenot Street, for a special “Coverlets Roadshow” Evaluation. Do you have a coverlet tucked away in your home? Perhaps a family heirloom or a treasured antique store find? Ever wonder how old it is, how or where it was made and even what it is worth? Levy and LeFevre-Stratton are the folks to ask. Together, they will examine coverlets brought in by the public and share their expertise. All are invited. There is a $10 suggested donation. This event is offered in conjunction with Binary Visions: 19th-Century Woven Coverlets from the Collection of Historic Huguenot Street, which is on exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz through March 18th.
Both events will be held in the LeFevre House at 54 Huguenot Street in New Paltz. For more information about these events or about Historic Huguenot Street, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call (845) 255-1660.
The Brooklyn Museum will celebrate the major exhibition American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection and the landmark collection-sharing partnership between Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Museum of Art at its annual gala, the Brooklyn Ball, on Thursday evening, April 22, 2010.
This year’s Brooklyn Ball will feature a giant twenty-foot-tall pinata in the shape of Andy Warhol’s head, which is part an interactive dining experience designed by Jennifer Rubell titled “Icons.” The pinata is currently on view in the Museum’s Rubin Pavilion. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing on the fifth floor and an exclusive opportunity to preview American High Style. Featuring some eighty-five masterworks from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition traces the evolution of fashion in America from its nineteenth-century European beginnings through the twentieth century. It marks the first time in more than two decades that a large-scale survey drawn from this preeminent collection will be on public view.
Included in the exhibition will be creations by such legendary American designers as Charles James, Norman Norell, and Gilbert Adrian- works by influential French designers including Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Givenchy, and Christian Dior- and works by such first-generation American women designers as Bonnie Cashin, Elizabeth Hawes, and Claire McCardell. Among the objects presented will be Schiaparelli’s Surrealist Insect Necklace, considered by experts to be one of the most important works in the collection- elaborate ball gowns and day wear by Charles James- evening ensembles by Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Scaasi, and Mainbocher- street wear by mid-twentieth-century designers Vera Maxwell, Claire McCardell, and Elizabeth Hawes- a group of hats by celebrated milliner Sally Victor- and dazzling evening wear by Norman Norell.
The Brooklyn Museum’s groundbreaking collection-sharing partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art went in to effect in January 2009. At that time Brooklyn’s renowned costume collection of 23,500 objects, acquired over the course of a century, was transferred to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is fully integrated into the Institute’s program of exhibitions, publications, and education initiatives and remains available for exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.
Co-chairs for this year’s Ball celebrating American High Style include chef and restaurateur Mario Batali and his wife Susan Cahn, European Editor-at-Large for Vogue Hamish Bowles, New York Times Style Editor Stefano Tonchi, Museum Trustee Stephanie Ingrassia, decorative arts specialist and educator Susan Weber, photographer Annie Leibovitz, fashion designer Zac Posen, and collector Carla Shen.
An interactive dining experience, designed by Jennifer Rubell, whom New York Times senior critic Roberta Smith credits with “laying waste to the prolonged ordeal that is the benefit dining experience,” will begin at 8 p.m. in the magnificent Beaux-Arts Court on the third floor. The interactive food journey through the Museum is titled Icons and includes drinking paintings, suspended melting cheese heads, and a larger- than-life dessert surprise. A hybrid of performance and installation art, Rubell’s food projects deconstruct the ritual of the meal and are often of monumental scale. During the evening, the Brooklyn Museum will honor the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and former Mellon Program Officer Angelica Rudenstine. Donald Randel, Mellon Foundation president, will accept the Museum’s highest honor, the Augustus Graham Medal, on their behalf.
Immediately following the Ball, the Museum will host High Style: The After Party in the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion. The festivities will feature artists’ fashions and dancing to live music. Tickets to the Ball range from $500 to $1,500, and tables are available from $5,000 to $50,000. All tickets to the Ball include admission to High Style: The After Party. Tickets to the after party start at $75. Further information about ticket options and table purchases is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (718) 501-6423. Proceeds from the event will support the Museum’s public and education programs.
The Augustus Graham Medal is being presented to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in recognition of its outstanding support of the Brooklyn Museum, including funding for the survey of the costume collection and the endowment of curatorial positions at the Museum. Through the foundation’s generosity, the first complete inventory, collection review, digital photography, and cataloguing of the Museum’s holdings of approximately 23,500 American and European costumes and accessories has been completed.
More than 5,800 of the most important works are now available to scholars, students, and the public through ARTstor, an innovative online initiative of the Mellon Foundation that provides access to curated collections of art images and associated data for noncommercial, scholarly, and not-for-profit educational use.
The Augustus Graham Medal is named after one of the founders of the Brooklyn Apprentices Library in 1823. That institution, which Graham nurtured and expanded, grew into the Brooklyn Institute and later became the Brooklyn Museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives has announced that two recently processed collections from the first half of the 20th century, the records of a curator in the Decorative Arts department Durr Friedley and those of former president William Church Osborn, are now open for scholarly research. The newly available collections include online finding aids. Durr Friedley Records, 1906-1918 Durr Friedley was a staff member of the Department of Decorative Arts of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1911 until 1917, serving as an assistant, Assistant Curator and Acting Curator. Records consist primarily of correspondence regarding prospective Museum acquisitions. Items of special interest include letters concerning the Museum’s acquisition of early American colonial furnishings, later displayed in the American Wing. A pdf finding aid is located here.
William Church Osborn Records, 1904-1953 William Church Osborn was a longtime trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art who also served as the institution’s Vice President, President and Honorary President. Records consist primarily of correspondence regarding all aspects of Museum operations including acquisitions, exhibitions, fundraising, buildings and trustee affairs. A pdf finding aid is located here.
The objective of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives is to collect, organize, and preserve in perpetuity the corporate records and official correspondence of the Museum, to make the collection accessible and provide research support, and to further an informed and enduring understanding of the Museum’s history. Archives holdings include Board of Trustees records, legal documents, Museum publications, office files of selected Museum staff, architectural drawings, press clippings, and ephemera. The Archives is accessible to Museum staff and to qualified scholarly researchers at the graduate level and above. Requests for access should be sent via email, and should include a brief summary of the research project, an outline of sources already consulted and a curriculum vitae or resume. Access is granted at the discretion of Archives staff, and certain materials may be restricted.