Friday, March 20, 2015

Schoolgirl Art Exhibit and Talk - Barton-Pell Mansion Museum

The Barton-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx, NY has just opened an exhibit of private embroderies from female academies.  Those of you who have loved Betsy Krieg Salm's work or taken the May Your Hands courses would be especially interested in this exhibit!

It runs from March 1st, 2015 - June 21st, 2015.

There are a few lovely add-on's to the exhibit for those too far away to attend - such as this article by the collectors who are curating the event.

A talk by the Gemmill's will be given on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm.  Registration is required.

Schoolgirl Art


Bronx, NY, January 20, 2015Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum (BPMM) will exhibit a unique selection of early 19th-century American schoolgirl embroideries and watercolors from the collection of William and Sally Gemmill starting March 1st. The exhibition, Accomplished Women: Schoolgirl Art from Female Academies in the Early Nineteenth Century, offers a special opportunity for the public to see beautiful and rare works from a major private collection. Twelve pieces in total will be included in the exhibition, among them a mourning embroidery by Abigail Walkerpart of Bartow-Pell’s permanent collection—which will be viewed in a rich new context in the spring show.
William and Sally Gemmill are collectors and independent researchers of American schoolgirl art during the first quarter of the 19th century, focusing primarily on the academies of New England and the mid-Atlantic. They are the authors of a recently published article in Antiques and Fine Arts magazine on their discovery of the Charlestown Academy as the source of several previously unidentified silk embroideries and have been speakers at symposiums at the American Folk Art Museum and at Bates College as part of the Maine Folk Art Trail.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, exclusive female academies for well-to-do young women began to sprout up all over New England. While reading, writing, and arithmetic were all part of the regular curriculum at these schools, a strong emphasis was placed on embroidery, drawing, and other arts, not only as an outlet for artistic expression, but also as material testimony to the young women’s accomplishments and their families’ social standings.

Memorials, family registers, historical scenes, allegories, maps, heraldry, and grisaille compositions based on engravings provided the subject matter for many of the fine pictorial silk embroideries and watercolors made in these schools in the early part of the 19th century. These precious artworks, many of which will be on view for the first time in the spring exhibition, were often placed in handsome gilt frames with eglomise (reverse painting on glass) mats and were an expensive and labor-intensive version of the student art projects that parents proudly display today.

“We are delighted that the Gemmills have agreed to share some of the pieces from their extraordinary collection with Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum,” said Margaret Highland, Education Director and Curator at BPMM. “Our 19th-century Greek Revival historic house is an ideal setting for an exhibition of this nature, and we are looking forward to opening the show to the public this spring.”

Accomplished Women: Schoolgirl Art from Female Academies in the Early Nineteenth Century will be on view from March 1 to June 21, 2015, and is free with museum admission. The museum is open to the public Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m. 

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