A Dutch Collection in New York

Posted in catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on October 16, 2009

Dutch New York between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick

Bard Graduate Center, New York,  18 September 2009 — 3 January 2010


Edited by Deborah Krohn and Peter Miller with Marybeth De Filippis, $75

This autumn the Bard Graduate Center will participate in a state-wide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage and the legacy of Dutch culture in New York with a landmark exhibition, Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick. Organized by the BGC and the New-York Historical Society and curated by Marybeth De Filippis and Deborah Krohn, Dutch New York will make a major contribution to the quadricentennial and to the scholarship of colonial New York by focusing on the life and times of a woman who during the seventeenth century lived in the rural village of Flatbush on eastern Long Island, a neighborhood still known by that name in the borough of Brooklyn today. The exhibition helps elucidate what the historian Russell Shorto has called the “forgotten colony” in his book The Island at the Center of the World. Indeed, the British roots of New York City are recognized far more widely than the Dutch, despite the city’s visible connections to the Dutch founders, most evident in street names such as Amsterdam Avenue and Varick Street.

Covered Bowl from Batavia (present-day Jakarta, Indonesia), early 18th century, silver, 5 x 7” (Gemeentemuseum, The Hague)

Covered Bowl from Batavia (present-day Jakarta, Indonesia), early 18th century, silver (Gemeentemuseum, The Hague)

Dutch New York offers an innovative approach to exhibition practice by using the probate inventory of Margrieta van Varick’s possessions compiled in 1696 as a means of examining life and culture in colonial New York. Born in Amsterdam in 1649, Margrieta spent several years at the other end of the Dutch colonial world in the Far East, primarily in Malacca (present day Malaysia) before returning to The Netherlands with her minister husband Rudolphus. In 1686 Margrieta and her family crossed the Atlantic to settle in Flatbush where Rudolphus was minister of the Dutch Reform Church and where she opened a textile shop, having brought with them an astonishing array of Eastern and European goods.

This exhibition is organized in five sections, each delineating a theme relevant to Margrieta van Varick’s life as well as exploring the wide range of goods in her possession when she died in late 1695. The exhibition first examines the inventory as a document of historical research and curatorial practice. A digital film (also available online) features an interview with renowned historian Natalie Zemon Davis in which she considers the various challenges confronting historians who use inventories for research purposes, as well as the role of women in the seventeenth century.

For the full description of the exhibition, click here»

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Lecture — Inventory: Text and Context, Bernard Herman

Thursday, 19 November 2009, 6-8 pm ($25 / $17)

RSVP required to 212.501.3011, programs@bgc.bard.edu

What can an inventory tell us? How can we use an artifact of the legal system to tease out relationships between people and their relationship to things? How does such a document translate into an exhibition? Bernard Herman, a leading scholar of American material culture, will draw on his vast knowledge of both things and people in a conversation with cultural historian Catherine Whalen and exhibition co-curator Deborah Krohn. The conversation will be followed by an exhibition viewing and reception. Bernard Herman is Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Art History, University of Delaware. Deborah Krohn is associate professor and coordinator for history and theory of museums at the Bard Graduate Center as well as co-curator of the Dutch New York exhibition. Catherine Whalen is assistant professor at the Bard Graduate Center.

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Study Day — Reflecting on Silver: Manufacture, Markets, and Meaning in Early New York

Friday, 20 November 2009 ($125 / $100 discount)

RSVP required to 212.501.3011, programs@bgc.bard.edu

This study day will focus on silver in New York in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, as an object signifying wealth, cultivation, and mastery. Concentrating on works by silversmiths Benjamin Wynkoop, Cornelius Kierstede, and Peter Van Dyck, curators Marybeth De Filippis, Beth Carver Wees, and Debra Schmidt Bach will consider aspects of stylistic influence, marketing of silver, and workshop practices. A visit to the studio of master silversmith Ubaldo Ubaldo “>Ubaldo “>Vitali in Maplewood, New Jersey, will provide an examination of the technical knowledge and cultural influences surrounding the production of silver through the centuries. Admission to the study day includes lunch and round-trip transportation to the Ubaldo Vitale studio. Marybeth De Filippis is assistant curator of American art at the New-York Historical Society as well as co-curator of the Dutch New York exhibition. Beth Carver Wees is curator in the Department of American Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Debra Schmidt Bach is assistant curator of decorative arts at the New-York Historical Society and a PhD candidate at the BGC. Ubaldo Vitali is a fourth-generation Roman silversmith, conservator, and art historian.

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A helpful article about the exhibition written by Marybeth De Filippis appears in the September issue of The Magazine Antiques.

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