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Women Only: Folk Art by Female Hands

April 6, 2010–September 19, 2010
Exhibition

Female artistic expression in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries followed prescribed time-honored conventions. Most of the graceful works presented in this exhibition, all of which are in the museum’s collection, were created within the strictures of postrevolutionary Republican Motherhood and the Cult of Domesticity. The majority were made during years spent in the cultivation of skills that prepared a young woman to shoulder the many roles required of her in adulthood as a wife and a mother. Others demonstrate that women continued to nourish their creative selves by plying those skills throughout their lives. Yet these paintings, drawings, samplers, quilts, rugs, and other works were artful from conception to execution, were displayed in parlors and best rooms, and conferred status and taste upon both heads of household: male and female.

Artworks

Woman in Veil
Attributed to Emily Eastman (1804–c. 1841)
Loudon, New Hampshire
c. 1825
Watercolor and ink on paper
14 9/16 x 10 5/8 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.4
Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor, New York

Crewelwork Picture
Artist unidentified
New England, probably Massachusetts
c. 1750–1760
Wool on linen
9 x 7 3/8 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.52
Photo courtesy Sotheby’s, New York

Hurlburt Family Mourning Piece
Probably Sarah Hurlburt (1787–1866)
Connecticut
c. 1808
Watercolor and ink on paper
17 x 20 in. oval (sight)
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.43

River Townscape with Figures
Prudence Perkins (dates unknown)
Possibly Rhode Island
c. 1810
Watercolor on paper
18 1/4 x 22 1/4 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.48
Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor, New York

Charles Stephen Morgan and Alcinda Gibson Morgan
Martha M. Graham (dates unknown)
Virginia
1830
Watercolor on velvet
16 x 22 1/2 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.49
Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor, New York

Crewel Bedcover
Artist unidentified
New England or New York State
1815–1825
Wool with wool embroidery
100 x 84 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Virginia Esmerian, 1995.32.1

Credits

“Women Only: Folk Art by Female Hands” is sponsored in part by the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir; the Gerard C. Wertkin Exhibition Fund; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties.

Reviews
The show has a rich selection of drawings and embroideries made by schoolgirls at elite female academies.
– Karen Rosenberg