Ann Stockton, 1804 needlework.
New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860
October 3, 2014 – March 29, 2015
PRINCETON, NJ - Morven Museum & Garden announces its next exhibition, “Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860.” This landmark exhibition will be the first to focus on the important contribution of New Jersey in the creation of schoolgirl needlework in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With 151 works on view, this exhibition will undertake the first survey of schoolgirl needlework completed in the state or by New Jersey girls prior to 1860. This exhibition and accompanying catalogue will create a lasting record of the best known examples. As part of the museum’s mission to showcase the cultural heritage of the Garden State, the curators will bring new light to the needlework done in New Jersey during this important period of American history.
Organized geographically, the exhibition will feature works from every region of the state. Although many elaborate and important examples of New Jersey needlework will be featured in the exhibition, the curators have also included more modest examples that highlight other aspects of the educational environment, social class and familial situation experienced by young girls in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In some cases, the exhibit will reunite, for the first time, needlework created by the same girl; sisters; cousins; schoolmates and other close relations.
The exhibition will feature loans from across the country including needlework completed in every New Jersey County (accounting for the numerous re-organizations of New Jersey counties in the nineteenth century). In presenting examples from every part of the state, the exhibition will distill the educational environment that existed in New Jersey from Cape May to Sussex Counties. The exhibition will also compile an accurate picture of girls academies and the instructresses who taught at them. Research conducted in preparation for the exhibition has uncovered previously unrecognized connections between needleworks through the motifs and designs employed by different instructresses.
The exhibition will occupy 1,709 square feet in five galleries within the second floor of the Morven mansion. This exhibition also coincides with the 350th anniversary of New Jersey and extensive state-wide celebration and programming.
Morven will host an opening symposium on Sunday, October 5th at the Nassau Inn in Princeton. A number of presentations panel discussions are planned to discuss the significance of New Jersey schoolgirl needlework and related topics. Speakers will include: Stephen and Carol Huber, Amy Finkel, Leslie Warwick, Dan and Marty Campanelli and Daniel Scheid.
A lunch and lecture by Linda Eaton of Winterthur is planned for January 29, 2015. Check the museum’s Web site for additional programming.
Lenders to the exhibition include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Winterthur, the DAR Museum, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, the New Jersey State Museum, the Bergen County Historical Society, the Cape May County Museum, the Gloucester County Historical Society, the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum, the Hopewell Museum, the Hunterdon Historical Society, the Leslie Durst Collection, the Metlar-Bodine House, Monmouth County Historical Association, the Old Barracks Museum, the Historical Society of Princeton, the Salem County Historical Society, and over twenty private collections.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a needlework stitched by Trenton-born Anne Rickey (1783-1846) “Hail Specimen of Female Art” was stitched onto her sampler in 1798. Anne Rickey was the daughter of Quaker merchant, John Rickey (1751-1829) and his wife Amey Olden (1757-1849).
The full text reads:
Hail specimen of female art
The needle’s magic power to show
To canvas various hues impart
And make a mimic world to grow
A sampler then with care peruse
An emblem sage you may find there
The canvas takes what forms you choose
So education forms the mind.
The Anne Rickey Sampler is in the collection of Daniel C. Scheid.
Funders for this exhibition include The Coby Foundation, Pheasant Hill Foundation, PNC Foundation, and Pook & Pook.
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue is available for purchase through the museum’s Web site and in the Museum Shop. For more information visit www.morven.org.
A National Historic Landmark, Morven is situated on five pristine acres in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey. Built by Richard Stockton (1730-1781), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this former New Jersey Governor’s Mansion showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Garden State through regular exhibitions, educational programs and special events. Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey, www.morven.org.