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January 7, 2010

62nd Annual Antiques Forum to explore New England decorative arts

Colonial Williamsburg’s 62nd annual Antiques Forum presents “Well made & Exceeding Fine: The Decorative Arts of New England” Sunday – Thursday, Feb. 7-11, that explores the rich and diverse heritage of the region through its decorative arts.

Scholars have been documenting the arts and crafts of early New England for more than a century and a half, but new and exciting discoveries continue to be made. The 2010 forum will bring together a group of widely recognized authorities on the remarkable New England furniture, ceramics, textiles, paintings and buildings produced between 1680 and 1830.

More than 20 curators, collectors, and historians will present their latest findings in a series of illustrated lectures and video-assisted workshops. Speakers include Jane Nylander, president emerita of Historic New England, scholar and author Kemble Widmer, and noted New England auctioneer Ron Bourgeault.

The 2010 Antiques Forum opens Sunday evening with a reception hosted by Colin G. Campbell, Colonial Williamsburg president and CEO, and Nancy N. Campbell. Following a Monday morning opening welcome and program introduction, Ronald L. Hurst, vice president of collections, conservation and museums and Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and will review “Recent Additions to the Colonial Williamsburg Collections” for participants.

Other presentations featuring Colonial Williamsburg curatorial expertise include: Janine Skerry, Colonial Williamsburg curator of metals presenting “Beyond Governor Winthrop’s Stone Pott: Exploring the Evidence for Stoneware in Early America,” and Barbara Luck, curator of paintings, drawings, and sculpture presenting “Yankee Ingenuity: New England Folk Portraits.”

Visiting experts and their presentations include:

  • Jane Nylander, president emerita, Historic New England (SPNEA), Portsmouth, N.H., “Reconsidering Old-Time New England,”
  • Frederic C. Detwiller, architect/preservation planner, New England Landmarks, Georgetown, Mass., “Along Liberty Road: New England Landmarks of the Revolution,”
  • Chris Ohrstrom and Steve Larson, Adelphi Paper Hangings LLC, The Plains, Va., and Sharon Springs, New York, “Reproducing Block Printed Wallpaper,”
  • Judy Anderson, curator of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, Marblehead, Mass., “Well-built and Exceeding Opulent: The 1768 Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead,”
  • Daniel Finamore, Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass., “The Mahogany Trade: Insights from Art, History, and Archaeology,”
  • Kemble Widmer, scholar and author, Newburyport, Mass., “Nathaniel Gould, Cabinetmaker of Salem,”
  • Jean Burks, Shelburne Museum senior curator, Shelburne, Vt., “Out of This World: Fine Shaker Design,”
  • Ronald Bourgeault, owner and auctioneer, Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, N.H., “The ltd. Lecture: New England in the Marketplace,”
  • Philip Zea, president, Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, Mass., “Revealing the Culture of Conflict: Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution,”
  • Don Carpentier, director, Eastfield Village, East Nassau, N.Y. and William McMillen, master tinsmith, Glenmont, N.Y., “New England Tinsmithing,”
  • Philip A. Hayden, senior architectural historian, Richard Grubb and Associates Inc., Cranbury, N.J., “Henry Sleeper and the Art of Collecting and Decorating with New England Antiques,”
  • Lynne Zacek Bassett, independent scholar, Palmer, Mass., “New Discoveries in New England’s Early Quilts,”
  • Dean Thomas Lahikainen, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art, The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass., “An uncommon native genius: Samuel McIntire and Salem’s Carving Tradition,” and
  • William Hosley, cultural resource consultant, writer and photographer, Enfield, Conn., The Chipstone Lecture: “Making History/Making Place: New England’s Search for a Usable Past.”

    Optional Friday workshops on Feb. 12 feature Colonial Williamsburg historic trades experiences and curatorial and conservation expertise. Participants are invited to handle the furniture, join in discussions and watch demonstrations of recent projects while exploring cabinetmaking, carving, and harpsichord-making skills at the Anthony Hay Shop in the Historic Area, or join members of the Anderson Blacksmith Shop for a hands-on experience shaping iron using traditional methods. Fanned with the bellows, a coal-fired forge heats the metal allowing the participants to shape the hot iron with hammer and anvil.

    Colonial Williamsburg furniture curator Tara Gleason Chicirda leads an in-depth examination and discussion of New England chests and desks during “A Close Look at the Case Furniture of New England.” She will discuss construction features of New England’s 18th- and early 19th-century case pieces, regional variations and how block front, serpentine and bow front chests and desks were formed.

    Christopher Swan, Colonial Williamsburg furniture conservator, provides an overview of primary 18th-century furniture finishing practices in “Waxing On: Furniture Finishes.” The workshop features a demonstration of the visual clues and the analytical techniques applied in characterizing finish types, including a demonstration of the new FTIR microscope.

    Suzanne Findlen Hood, associate curator of ceramics and glass, explores the varied world of salt-glazed stoneware — from German Bartmann and refined English tableware to American storage jars — during “Salt-glazed Stoneware in Early America.”

    Virginia Lascara, owner of Yorktown’s Black Dog Gallery, presents “Framing Prints and Maps.” This workshop focuses on archival framing of maps and prints, including making the best choices in archival materials for mat board, hinges and glazing. Participants discover sources for period-style moldings and discern the difference between reproduction and antique prints.

    Optional Bus Tours

    The 2010 Antiques Forum also offers four optional private bus tours — two overnight and two one-day excursions:

  • Saturday–Sunday, Feb. 6–7, Views of Jefferson’s Albemarle. Led by Colonial Williamsburg’s Ronald L. Hurst and the University of Virginia Library’s Sara Lee Barnes, the tour traverses several historic districts in Virginia and offers some of the most spectacular Piedmont mountain and river views. The tour visits several important and rarely seen private collections in late 18th- and early 19th-century houses, spends time with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s senior curators touring Monticello and the University of Virginia Library. The tour overnights at Clifton Inn, an elegant country retreat originally built by Jefferson’s son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph.
  • Saturday–Sunday, Feb. 6–7, Southside Virginia Tour. The overwhelming success of last year’s trip to Southside Virginia led by Robert Leath, MESDA vice president for collections and research, and Sally Gant, MESDA director of educational programs, led them to agree to return for another exciting tour of private houses and collections in that region. The tour explores the early 19th-century, classically inspired houses of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, dipping briefly into North Carolina to visit the hometown of the Tarheel State’s most important 19th-century African American cabinetmaker, Thomas Day. The group overnights at the historic estate, Berry Hill, built in 1842 for the Bruce family, a masterpiece of American classical architecture and a virtual acropolis nested in the Southside Virginia landscape. On Sunday, the group will visit Woodland, located just outside Petersburg. The original house was built by the Wynne family of Dinwiddie County in the mid-18th century but was expanded in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries to house an outstanding collection of American and British antiques.
  • Sunday, Feb. 7, Hobb’s Hole and the Rappahannock Tour. New York antiquarian Ralph Harvard leads the visit to a variety of splendid 18th-century homes alongside the Rappahannock River and old Indian roads near the 17th-century trading village of Hobb’s Hole, featuring a combination of sophistication and rusticity with grand Palladian mansions and vernacular Dutch-roofed cottages. See examples of some of the finest and most ambitious brickwork in the state, superb baroque woodwork, rare intricate colonial plaster detailing, and local interpretations of British architectural pattern-books. Lunch will be served in a famed old Virginia eatery established in the 1930s.
  • Sunday, Feb. 7, Plantations of Accomack County Tour. Winterthur Museum and Country Estate’s J. Thomas Savage, director of museum affairs, leads this visit to the upper county of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, exploring important private plantation houses opening to Antiques Forum participants for the first time. Wharton Place, one of Virginia’s outstanding Federal houses, has signed composition mantels by Robert Wellford of Philadelphia. Bowman’s Folly, the stately mansion built for Revolutionary War Gen. John Cropper, combines architectural sophistication with rural details characteristic of Eastern Shore houses. Hills Farm, a sturdy plantation house in Flemish bond brickwork begun by Richard Drummond III in 1747, has bold Colonial Revival interiors from a 1942 restoration.

    Advance registration and payment in full for the 2010 Antiques Forum is required. Registration of $600 includes admission to program presentations, an opening reception, daily continental breakfasts, coffee breaks and afternoon refreshments, a closing reception and dinner, and a Colonial Williamsburg admission pass valid for the duration of the Antiques Forum. Optional programs and tours incur additional fees. Special lodging rates are available for Antiques Forum attendees. For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-603-0948 or visit

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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