December 14, 2004
CW to display folk art
Colonial Williamsburg's DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will host "Treasures from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum," an exhibition of more than 100 examples of the Folk Art Museum's most visually appealing and historically important objects from the permanent holdings. On display from April 16, 2005 through December 2006, "Treasures" will maintain a much-needed and much-requested folk art presence for Colonial Williamsburg guests while the new Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum building is under construction. The new Folk Art Museum, which will be adjacent to the Wallace Museum, is due to open in October 2006.
In "Treasures," co-organizers Carolyn Weekley, Colonial Williamsburg's Juli Grainger director of museums, and Barbara Luck, curator of paintings, drawings and sculpture, have mixed categories, types and time periods in selecting objects for display. A few old favorites have been included, such as the charming painting of a child known as "Baby in Red Chair." But a number of seldom-exhibited and newly acquired objects have been chosen as well. One recent addition that will be displayed is a group of finely detailed woodcarvings whimsically fashioned into the shapes of common iron tools. Whittled in the 1860s and 1870s by Frederick Parker of Goldens Bridge, N.Y., the collection recently was given to the foundation by the maker’s great niece, Eunice Smith.
Another work not previously displayed is a spectacular, newly conserved oil portrait of Mercy Merwin Todd of New Milford, Conn., painted in the late 1790s by little-known artist Jonathan Budington. Only a handful of Budington’s paintings are known to exist, and this is the first for the Folk Art Museum. Budington’s likeness of Mrs. Todd sandwiches the sitter between swooping red drapes and her own billowing skirt, creating a dazzling display of bold line and color. The painting was a partial gift to Colonial Williamsburg from a descendent, Mrs. Edward Christian Broderson.
"Because they were largely unhampered by formal training, folk artists like Budington often invented surprising and delightful ways to represent ordinary objects, helping us to see them in a new light today," said Luck. "'Treasures' provides an exceptional opportunity to explore the diversity and richness of a collection that has no real equivalent in terms of its focus on American folk art from the 18th century to the present day."