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Recent Discoveries

 

Winterthur curators and graduate students consider researching objects one of the great joys of their field. Below, are featured recent research and discoveries relating to Winterthur’s museum collection objects.


Ceramics

John Milton
Made by the Derby Porcelain Works, Derbyshire, England; probably 1762–63
Four patch marks
Soft-paste porcelain
Height: 11 ½” (29.2 cm)
2005.17 Gift of Bobbie Falk

John Milton
Made in Staffordshire, England; 1790–1820
Lead-glazed earthenware (pearlware)
Height: 14 ¾” (37.5 cm)
1964.1210 Gift of Henry Francis du Pont

 

John Milton (bust)
Probably made in Pennsylvania, 1800–1840
Lead-glazed earthenware (redware)
Height: 8 5/8” (22.1 cm)
2009.27 Museum purchase with funds drawn from the Centenary Fund

From the 1600s onward knowledge of famous writers’ works helped identify readers as educated, sophisticated members of society.  The popularity of such publications is evident in English and American period newspapers, performance leaflets, and library inventories.  Three Winterthur ceramics wonderfully illustrate this fascination with important personages and portray the 17th-century writer John Milton (1608-74). First in the group is a 1760s Derby soft-paste porcelain (2005.17) figure portraying Milton full-length, leaning against a column bearing a relief scene of “The Expulsion” from Paradise Lost.  Finely modeled and elegantly enameled, this figure was costly when new and would have been destined for an elegant home, probably in England.  The second full-length Milton portrait is in Staffordshire pearlware from around 1800 (1964.1210).  It is similar in design, but is less finely modeled than the Derby figure and, though not inexpensive, would have appealed to somewhat less wealthy consumers wishing to imitate their “betters.”  Occasionally such objects may have crossed the ocean to America.  Third in the group is a possibly unique Pennsylvania redware bust of Milton from the first part of the 19th century.  Though fascinating today, crudely finished objects such as this, made in little-refined clays, were comparatively inexpensive and would have appeared in less wealthy homes in America

Portraits of famous well-known figures like Milton—sometimes paired with Shakespeare—or other contemporary writers, scientists, theologians, and important personages were produced in plaster, marble, or metalwork and sometimes were referred to as “Illustrious Moderns.”  Such objects could be acquired in sets and were available to a broad range of consumers in a variety of materials suitable for indoor or outdoor display. For example, 16 busts—including Milton, Inigo Jones, William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, and Sir Francis Drake—were featured in William Kent’s 1734 "Temple of Worthies," designed for the Elysian Fields garden at Stowe in England.  

In 1749 one could buy full-length bronzed plaster figures of Milton and a matching Shakespeare from John Cheere (1709–87) of London’s Hyde Park Corner. It may have been the Cheere model that inspired the full-length Milton figures in glazed and biscuit Derby, Chelsea, and Plymouth porcelain as well as in Copeland parian ware and in Staffordshire pearlware. Versions in Dirmstine porcelain and Flörsheim creamware from Germany also were produced.  In contrast, Winterthur’s redware bust resembles Michael Rysbrack’s 1737 sculpture for Milton’s tomb at Westminster Abbey.  Reproductions of that design, widely circulated in printed and sculptural form, include Staffordshire pearlware busts that probably were the model for Winterthur’s redware version.

For more Staffordshire earthenware figures, be sure to visit Winterthur's Ceramics and Glass Gallery.


 

Glass

Mug
Bohemia (now Czech Republic); 1790–1825
Nonlead glass with gilding
Height: 3 ¾” (9.7 cm); Length: 3 ¾” (9.7 cm); Diameter: 3” (7.5 cm)
2008.47 Gift of Tara MacNeil Veitch and Neil MacNeil

Detail from a page in “Pattern Book for Glass,” familiarly referred to as the “Gardiner’s Island Catalogue”
Bohemia (now Czech Republic), c. 1825
Folio 115, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library

This important gilt, cobalt-blue glass mug forms a pair with one already in the museum’s collection, and both have been found to link to a manuscript sales catalogue in the Winterthur Library’s Downs Collection. That late 18th- or early 19th-century “Pattern Book” includes many hand-drawn and painted examples of Bohemian glassware and is signed by a Johannes Schiefner. The mugs match a painted illustration for a "Mug, of dark blue glass, with gilt rim and small stars." The catalogue has an early history associating it with Gardiner’s Island, New York. Such documents were distributed by agents or factories to potential buyers, whether private individuals or merchants.


Furniture

Tall chest-on-frame
Made by Samuel Morris (d. 1809), Logtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania; 1793
Walnut with tulip-poplar and chestnut
Height: 74 ¾” (189.9 cm); Width: 38” (96.5 cm); Depth: 21 1/8” (53.8 cm)
2007.17 Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle

As ubiquitous as southeastern Pennsylvania walnut tall chests and chests of drawers on frames are, very few are signed and dated by the maker or have a definitively known original owner. This example has it all: the maker, Samuel Morris, signed the back of the second drawer from the bottom “Samuel Morris / Joyner of Logtown / 8 mo 5 1793,” and on the reverse of that board, inside the drawer, he wrote, “For Lydia Harlan.”

Little is known about Samuel Morris, though in his last will and testament, written in 1809 in Kennett Township, he called himself a “cabinetmaker.” The style of his notation of the date on Lydia’s tall chest indicates he was a Quaker. If so, he possibly was a member of the Kennett Meeting.

Lydia Harlan (1763–1825), a Quaker who never married, belonged to the Kennett Meeting. Upon her death she was living in her brother Thomas’s house with his widow. Her inventory consisted of what appears to be just a bed chamber of furniture, including a “Case drawers” valued at $4. To her niece and namesake, Lydia Harlan, she left “six silver teaspoons marked with the initials L. H. and my riding whip,” possibly her most treasured personal possessions.

Research on this recent accession continues as we seek to learn more about the maker and the owner, possibly both members of Chester County’s large Quaker community. This important tall chest-on-frame will be featured in Winterthur’s major upcoming exhibition Paint, Pattern, and People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850, to be held from April through December 2011.


 
 

Prints

“Persuasion”
England; 1800–1820
Reverse print on glass; gilded gesso on wood frame
Length: 16 ½” (41.9 cm); Width: 12 ½” (31.8 cm)
2009.19 A, B Museum purchase with funds from various donors

“Perswaition"
Staffordshire, England; 1815–25
Enameled pearlware (earthenware)
Height: 7 7/8” (19.9 cm)
2002.30.76 Gift of Thomas N. and A. Pat Bernard

Aptly titled “Persuasion,” this reverse print on glass portrays a lovers’ tête-à-tête. The scene is inscribed, “My lovely Maid let me impart / The secrets of an honest heart / Believe my love without Disguise / So let us marry and be wise.” The gentleman offers a ring to the elegantly dressed maiden as she demurely averts her gaze.

This print, or one made in competition with it, inspired a Staffordshire pearlware figure group at Winterthur. The ceramic example bears the same title, misspelled as “Perswation.” Both objects share many design details, the only addition to the pearlware group being a small dog seated between the lovers. Costume details and common dating of such ceramic groups help date the print to the early 19th century. Also, a variant on the print, with nearly identical clothing, is dated 1806.

Painted reverse prints on glass were popular in America and England from the mid-18th to early 19th centuries. Shopkeepers offered glass to fit standard print sizes, and instructors from Boston to South Carolina sold prints, glass, and paints as well as offered tutelage in the “art of painting beautifully on glass.”


Metalwork

Pitcher
Made by Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, Philadelphia; c. 1815–20
Silver
Height: 15 ¾” (40.64 cm); Width: 10 ¼” (26 cm); Diameter: 6 ¾” (17.15 cm)
1969.16 Winterthur purchase

The silversmithing and fancy hardware firm of Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner was the subject of several years of Winterthur research. This pitcher offers an early example of the firm’s dynamic integration of sculptural animal features into tasteful household silver, seen in the dog’s head and snake handle. Due, in part, to their presentation awards made for officers in the War of 1812, silver and gold produced in Fletcher and Gardiner’s shop in Philadelphia gained a national reputation. They remained arbiters of taste in American silver for several decades.

For in-depth research about this fascinating firm, see Donald L. Fennimore and Ann Wagner’s Silversmiths to the Nation: Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, 1808–1842 (Antique Collectors Club, 2007).  To order this book online, please click here. See also “Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner’s Military and Civil Silver and Gold” (The Magazine Antiques, vol. CLXXIL, no. 4, October 2007: 140–47). The curators are currently researching the firm’s gold- and silver-hilted swords for a future article.


Shelf clock
Made by Jacques Nicolas Pierre François Dubuc, Paris, France; c. 1815–19
Mercury-gilded brass (ormolu), iron, glass
Height: 19 3/8” (19.21 cm); Width: 14 5/8" (37.15 cm); Depth: 5 ¾” (14.61 cm)
1957.1035 Gift of Henry Francis du Pont

George Washington’s legacy as the hero of the American Revolution and the nation’s first president deservedly acquired epic status after his death in 1799. Enterprising manufacturers in England, Scotland, and France featured images of Washington on objects, including stylish mantle clocks made for American consumers. On this clock, the banner below the dial bears the phrase—from Henry Lee’s eulogy—“WASHINGTON. First in WAR, First in PEACE, First in the HEARTS of his COUNTRYMEN.” The full-length figure of Washington in an officer’s uniform, the eagle, and emblems from the nation’s Great Seal
set on a block engraved “E PLURIBUS UNUM” all convey a message of patriotism.

Recently a Winterthur Trustee made it possible for Lara Pascali, a student in the museum’s graduate program in American culture studies, to travel to Paris to pursue the identities of French craftsmen associated with Washington figure clocks. Her trip led to several discoveries. One Parisian clockmaker signed clock dials like this one with the surname “Dubuc” and an address on Rue Michel-le-Comte. Research revealed existence of two brothers named Dubuc who were clockmakers and merchants in Paris. Jean-Baptist Charles Gabriel Dubuc (“Dubuc le jeune”), who died in 1819, is most often associated with Washington figure clocks, but his elder brother, Jacques Nicolas Pierre François Dubuc (“Dubuc l’ainé”), is the one listed in business directories at Rue Michel-le-Comte.

Another vital clue was found in a letter dated 1815, directed to a gentleman in Baltimore, Maryland, by “DUBUC, Aine horloger, rue Michel Le Compte, No. 33.” The letter, titled “French Ingenuity,” was published in American newspapers from Charleston, South Carolina, to Boston, Massachusetts. It discussed Dubuc’s plan to produce mantle clocks in two sizes featuring “the statue of the great Washington.” Also discovered were subsequent (until the financial panic of 1819) advertisements for Washington mantle clocks supplied by several French clockmakers. Pascali’s work firmly identified the maker and established 1815 as the earliest date of manufacture for Winterthur’s clock.


 
 

Works on Paper

Birth and baptismal certificate for Wilhelm Hottenstein
Flying Angel Artist (active c. 1780–1811)
Berks County, Pennsylvania; c. 1800
Watercolor and ink on laid paper
Height: 13 ½” (34.5 cm); Width: 16 5/8” (42.5 cm)
2008.19.1 Museum purchase with funds drawn from the Centenary Fund

This fraktur certificate documents the birth on January 8, 1791, of Wilhelm Hottenstein, son of David and Elisabetha (Klein) Hottenstein of Maxatawny Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. It also records his baptism by Pastor Hertzel in the Lutheran church there. His grandparents, David and Catherina Hottenstein, were the sponsors at the baptism.

The Hottenstein family is significant to Winterthur because H. F. du Pont purchased the woodwork from a second-floor chamber of the Hottensteins’ large stone house, which still stands along Route 222 near Kutztown. The woodwork was installed at Winterthur in the Fraktur Room, where it may be visited on house room tours. Also on view in the Fraktur Room is the Hottenstein family Bible and a large walnut schrank (clothespress), which was made for the family in 1781 and is one of the most important pieces of Pennsylvania furniture in the museum’s collection.


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