May 24, 1944:
To be included in the exhibition America: 1744 -1944, opening to the public at the Brooklyn Museum on May 26, is a group of 18th century portraits which are all recent acquisitions, some of them never exhibited before.
One of the most distinguished of the early American portraitists, Robert Feke (1705/29 - 1750/69) will be represented by his Unknown Woman (Mrs. John Vinal?). This painting, just purchased by the Museum, portrays a young woman of about eighteen, dressed in deep pink silk, trimmed with lace and blue ribbon. Behind her is an architectural background which ends at the right to reveal a bit of landscape which might well be of the north shore of Long Island, where Feke lived in his youth. The portrait is highly finished and a superb example of the work of Feke, who has been called the finest portrait painter before Copley.
Also to be exhibited for the first time is a portrait of Deborah Hall, painted in 1766 by William Williams. Of the work of this little-known artist, who painted chiefly around Philadelphia in the third quarter of the 18th century, only five other portraits are known, two of these being of Deborah Hall’s brothers, William and David.
The two portraits of the Van Cortlandt boys, Pierre and John, by an unknown artist, are charming examples of formal American portraiture of around 1731. These pictures have been in storage for the emergency after being shown for a brief time, but have recently been returned to the Museum.
The portrait of William Tailer by John Smibert (1688 - 1751) was exhibited while on loan at the Museum, but we are now proud to show this picture as a recent gift of Mr. and Mrs. Luke Vincent Lockwood. Smibert was a Scotchman who came to America with Dean Berkeley, and whose many portraits undoubtedly influenced the young Robert Feke.
Also to be included in this special group of 18th century American portraits, which will be shown in the Entrance Hall of the Museum, are Lavinia Van Vechten, a strong example of the more “provincial” type of the portraiture of the period, and John Watson’s portrait of Governor Lewis Morris of New Jersey. This picture was mentioned in the artist’s journal as having been painted in 1726.
Paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries will be shown with the major part of the exhibition in the Special Exhibition Gallery. These will be better-known works from the Museum Collection, among them paintings by Mount, Bingham, Johnson, Homer, Duveneck, Sargent and Mattson.
May 24, 1944:
On Thursday afternoon, May 25, the Brooklyn Museum will open with a tea and reception its summer exhibition, AMERICA: 1744 - 1944, which will remain current through October 22.
In this exhibition the Museum is presenting a panorama of two hundred years of American living. The accoutrements of the American of taste, education, and broad cultural curiosity and acquisitiveness are shown. No attempt has been made to go into the bypaths of American folk arts, nor into the field of American Indian art. The exclusion of these two fields is no disparagement of the pioneer frontiersman, but the task of maintaining and developing an American way of life - a manner of living which became more comfortable and easier than that in any other country - was left to the stay-at-home.
All the material in the galleries is drawn from the Museum’s own permanent collections, and includes paintings, prints and drawings, furniture, decorative arts, costumes and accessories, books and fashion illustrations and sketches. Many of these items have never before been exhibited, and some are recent accessions.
An elaborate chimney piece of 1812 that formerly stood in the drawing room of Judge Abraham Terhune’s mansion in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn is shown. The accompanying furniture and accessories of this date were made by Duncan Phyfe of New York. The Greek Revival period is represented by a classic marble mantelpiece removed from the drawing room of the Vanderbilt-Clarkson house of the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The Victorian epoch is highlighted by a chimney piece removed from a parlor in Saratoga, New York, and the furniture and accessories are the contents of the same room. Each piece of furniture is accompanied by the original cabinet maker’s bill of sale dated 1855. A unique item of this period is a piano made by Kuhn & Ridgeway of Baltimore, the keyboard being in the shape of a gold harp, a rare form to find in an American piano.
Architecture of the 1880’s is represented by an elaborately carved and mirrored chimney piece removed from the library of the John Sloan house, formerly located at 883 Fifth Avenue. Mission furniture is also shown, as well as modern pieces created by Robsjohn-Gibbings, Coggeshall and Hans Knoll.
In chronological divisions, the costumes range from the 18th century to the present day. Among the dresses in the first section is a gray silk pelisse robe of about 1820-25, and in the next division the changing line in skirt and shoulder is revealed by a charming printed American cotton. A handsome brown taffate dress with a hoop skirt trimmed with velvet brocade is worn with a black Chantily shawl. A street scene shows out-of-doors clothes, the outstanding costume being a pink ribbed silk jacket and gray satin quilted skirt and black bonnet of about 1860. The period 1890-1900 is represented by a group of handsome imported ball gowns, created by such designers as Rouff and Worth. The last section shows the extremely short version of the late 20’s, and the present day is represented by the work of American designers: Mme. Eta and Wilson Folman.
In the Entrance Hall is a group of distinguished 18th century American portraits, one of the most important being a recent Museum purchase, Unknown (Mrs. John Vinal?), by Robert Feke (1705/29 - 1750/69). Also exhibited for the first time is a portrait of Deborah Hall, painted in 1766 by William Williams. There are two handsome portraits of the Van Cortlandt boys, Pierre and John, painted by an unknown American artist about 1731, a portrait of William Tailer by John Smibert, a recent gift of Mr. and Mrs. Luke Vincent Lockwood; and Governor Lewis Morris painted by John Watson in 1726. Shown In the Special Exhibition Gallery are paintings by Mount, Bingham, Johnson, Homer, Duveneck, Sargent and Mattson.
As a special feature of the exhibition, the Museum Library has placed on exhibition books published in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Library has also drawn on its resources to show fashion plates, ladies’ magazines of the early 19th century, volumes illustrative of Victorian taste, and publications showing fashion at the beginning of this century.
About forty 19th century American prints from the Museum collection are shown in the Print Gallery on the second floor, among the special items being the series of prints called The Prodigal Son by Amos Doolittle, an early American engraver.
In connection with the exhibition there will be a Festival of American Music on Sunday afternoon, June 11th, at 3:30 p.m.
PRESS PREVIEW: TUESDAY, MAY 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Date unknown, approximately 1944:
On Thursday afternoon, May 25, the Brooklyn Museum will open with a tea and reception its summer exhibition, AMERICA: 1744-1944, which will remain current through October 22.
All the material in the galleries will be drawn from the Museum’s own permanent collections, and will include paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, furniture, decorative arts, costumes and accessories, books and fashion illustrations and sketches. Many of these items have never before been exhibited, and some are recent acquisitions.
The exhibition will include sections of rooms, now belonging to the Museum, from houses of the Greek Revival period in Flatbush, the early Victorian period in Saratoga, and the 1880’s in New York City. (It has not been possible to permanently establish these rooms, because of existing war conditions.) There will also be a special section of material designed and used in the 20th century.
The costumes will range from the mid-l8th century to a 1943 street dress, and Victorian Gothic revival pieces of furniture, as well as English Chippendale, will be shown.
THERE IS NOW ON EXHIBITION AT THE MUSEUM A SAMPLE OF WHAT THE FINISHED EXHIBITION WILL BE: THIS MINIATURE VERSION OF THE SHOW WILL BE OPEN TO ANY MEMBER OF THE PRESS THROUGH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1942 - 1946. 01-03/1944, 015.
August 10, 1944:
As a special feature of the Summer Exhibition, AMERICA, 1744-1944, the Brooklyn Museum will open on August 11, an exhibition of representative sketches from the important Library of Original Fashion Sketches by American Designers which the Brooklyn Museum Library has been collecting for the past two years. This show will remain current through October 29.
The exhibition contains examples of the work of such outstanding designers as Mark Mooring of Bergdoff-Goodman, Vera Maxwell, Elizabeth Hawes, Jenkins, Philip Mangone, Eta of Ren-Eta, and Mabel Downs, all of whom have contributed rough and finished sketches, complete with swatches of material, which give a comprehensive picture of their activity in, and contribution to, the World of Fashion. Norman Norell is represented by numerous fascinating croquis for the spring season, 1942. Gayly colored sketches for the years 1940-1944 show the typically youthful creations of Claire McCardell. The work of Bruno of Spectator Sports is illustrated by preliminary sketches and by professional sketches of the finished garment. Designs for four gowns made for the Duchess of Windsor by Hattie Carnegie introduces the work of one of America’s outstanding houses. Extremely well defined sketches by Bernard Newman reveal the fact that a fashion sketch can be explanatory and very beautiful. Bonnie Cashin shows some very pert and amusing play clothes as well as chic street and dress costumes. The sketches done by Vera Host are detailed, finished and most intriguing. Adele Simpson is represented by several beautifully executed designs. So the exhibition continues, including sketches by Coppola, Charlie Armour, Czettel, Renee Montague, Natalie Renke, Chester Hicks, Mme. Sonia and many others, all distinguished and all important in a record of American Fashion.
Stage and screen are represented by the work of Irene, Muriel King, Edith Head’s designs for LADY IN THE DARK, Fiffi’s creation for the DeMarcos, Jenkins costumes for Mimi, Czettel’s two beautiful sketches for Marian Anderson and Waiter Florell’s designs for THE MERRY WIDOW.
The Museum is open to the public on weekdays from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. and on Sundays from 1 P.M. to 5 P.M.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1942 - 1946. 07-09/1944, 078.