Published: December 5, 2006
The Concord Museum is showing a special exhibition, “Needles & Haystacks: Pastoral Imagery in American Needlework from the Winterthur Collection,” through January 7. Featuring exquisite needlework pictures of idyllic country scenes created by schoolgirls in early America, the exhibition gives a new twist to the traditional focus on the landscape that is so much a part of New England history.
The artistry and charm of the works, the richness of the colors in the needlework and the diversity of the materials and techniques appeal to all those with an appreciation for fine craftsmanship, whether antiques collector, artist, designer or needlework enthusiast, from novice to expert.
Canvas work, silk work, crewelwork and needlework are exhibited in forms ranging from framed pictures and samplers to petticoat borders and chair seat covers. Complementing the needlework pieces in the exhibition are silver teapots, Staffordshire figurines, painted boxes and porcelain candlesticks that support the pastoral theme.
Concord Museum executive director Désirée Caldwell said, “Needles & Haystacks is an wonderful opportunity for our members and for the visiting public to enjoy some of the finest pieces of American pastoral needlework. These examples from Winterthur’s collection are both rare and beautiful and this is the only time these works will be exhibited together in New England.”
The word “pastoral” defines an idealized time when shepherds and shepherdesses lived simple, rural lives uncomplicated by the corrupting influences of the city. Organized by Linda Eaton, curator of textiles at Winterthur Museum, “Needles & Haystacks” shows how the pastoral tradition was depicted in needlework through themes of love and courtship, farms and landscapes, and the carefree bliss of rural life. Instruction in fancy needlework techniques was central to the education of the daughters of wealthy colonists. The schoolgirls whose work is exhibited were from Boston, Salem and Newburyport as well as Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut and Delaware.
With one of the oldest collections of Americana in the country, the Concord Museum is renowned for its national treasures: the lantern that hung in the church steeple on the night of Paul Revere’s famous ride; the largest collection of Henry Thoreau’s possessions anywhere, including the desk where he penned Walden and Civil Disobedience; Ralph Waldo Emerson’s study, an important gathering place for the greatest American writers of his day; and outstanding furniture, clocks, silver and ceramics.
The museum’s own extensively documented needlework collection numbers about 70 objects ranging in date from the 1660s to the 1830s, almost exclusively from Concord or one of the neighboring communities.
The exhibition at the Concord Museum, at the intersection of Lexington Road and Cambridge Turnpike, is supported by Skinner, Inc. The museum is wheelchair accessible and has ample free parking on Cambridge Turnpike.
For further information 978-369-9609, 978-369-9763 or www.concordmuseum.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm