A Gardener's Library
A Gardener's Library presents a selection of books from the library of the International Garden Club (now known as the Bartow-Pell Conservancy), which established its headquarters in March 1914 at the Bartow-Pell Mansion. The IGC library remains intact, a recognition of the central role books play in the history, creation, and maintenance of gardens in general and the Bartow-Pell gardens in particular. Although few of these books are rare, they are valuable for their contents and for their role as a working collection that provides reading pleasure, practical information, and aesthetic guidance.
Handwritten Copy of Deed from Native Americans Granting Ownership of Land to Thomas Pell, June 27, 1654 (Julian Calendar)
This is the only known copy of the June 27, 1654, deed by which local Native Americans granted to Thomas Pell ownership of the lands that became known as the Manor of Pelham. The tract is estimated by some to have encompassed nearly 50,000 acres including much of today's Bronx, Pelham, New Rochelle, and Eastchester. This copy is believed to be in Thomas Pell’s handwriting. It probably is a 1655 copy referenced in a 1666 letter from Pell to John Winthrop, Jr., the Royal Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, as part of Pell's lobbying efforts to obtain a royal patent confirming his land purchase. (That royal patent was issued on October 8, 1666.) Tradition has long held that Pell, various witnesses, and Native Americans gathered beneath the spreading branches of a massive oak tree that once stood on the grounds of today’s Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum to sign the deed. That tree became known as the "Pell Treaty Oak." A fire destroyed the tree in 1906, although pieces are still held in the collections of several local institutions, including the one on display here. The whereabouts of the original Pell deed are unknown. Period handwriting on the reverse of this copy suggests that it may have been sent to Thomas Pell's brother, John Pell, in England for safekeeping some time before September 20, 1660. This theory is further bolstered by the fact that Thomas Pell, who had no children of his own, bequeathed the land to his brother's son (Thomas Pell's nephew), also named John Pell. The younger John Pell left England to live on the land after his uncle's death and is the ancestor of many, many Pells throughout North America.
Thomas Pell (1612/13–1669). Ink on paper; on verso, among other things, a handwritten shorthand "code" derived from John Willis' 1602 "Stenographie" states: "September 20 1660 Roger Ludlow Esquire examined this paper for me John Pell" Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum
The Age of Botanical Wonders
The proceedings of the Horticultural Society of London (renamed the Royal Horticultural Society in 1861), were collected in publications entitled Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London appearing periodically from 1812 to1842. The Transactions were devoted to the subject of horticulture and the improvement of its practice. The Society's innovative leadership attracted the most eminent scholars, scientists, artists, and engravers of the day to contribute to the content and production of the Transactions. This exhibition features exquisite, hand-colored engraving on steel by botanical masters such as William Hooker, John Lindley, and William Say. The volumes in the Museum's Library Collection were acquired in the early 20th century by the newly formed International Garden Club which modeled itself after the Royal Horticultural Society.
Shade and Shadow: A Selection of British and American Silhouettes
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, September 7 – November 18, 2012
This exhibition presents a small selection of 19th-century British and American silhouettes from Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and four private collections. Before photography became widely available, silhouette portraits were quick, easy, and affordable. Elegant ladies, family scenes, charming children, and more reveal a compelling slice of life from the golden age of this art form.
Dibbles and Daisy Grubbers
The Art of the Garden Tool
On view at BPMM from April 1 to July 1, 2012 was an exhibition of antique garden tools collected by landscape architect Mark Morrison. These beautifully crafted and exceptionally useful objects provided a fascinating glimpse into the art of gardening as was practiced in Europe and America from the 17th century on. Specialized tools such as clod crushers, cucumber straighteners, and wasp catchers were displayed alongside more familiar objects such as dibbles (for planting bulbs) and watering cans, each handmade in practical yet elegant forms.
The Boltons of Pelham Priory
A Cultural Legacy from England to America
September 3 - November 21, 2010
This exhibition celebrates the achievements of the Reverend Robert (1788-1857) and Anne Jay (1793-1859) Bolton and their children, a fascinating and vibrant Anglo-American family whose life on two continents emphasized religious, intellectual, and artistic pursuits in a warm and lively family setting.
Robert Bolton left the sultry, moss-draped squares of Savannah, where he was born, for the elegance of Regency England. In the 1830s, he brought his family to the woods and farmland of Westchester County, New York. Bolton was at times a wealthy cotton merchant, a gentleman farmer, a devout clergyman, antiquarian, and teacher, and a close friend of Washington Irving (1783-1859). Robert's English wife, Anne Jay Bolton, was the daughter of the Reverend William Jay (1769-1853) of Bath, the influential dissenter. Robert and Anne were the parents of thirteen children (all but one born in England), most of whom were extremely gifted artists, writers, clergymen, and educators.
The family became neighbors of the Bartows when they moved to Pelham, New York, in 1838. Here, inspired by English medievalism, they designed and built the Priory, one of the earliest Gothic Revival houses in this country, filling it with collections of rare volumes, paintings, suits of armor, antiques, and curiosities. In 1843, the Reverend Bolton built Christ Church, which houses the earliest figurative stained glass window made in America, designed and crafted by his son William Jay (1816-1884).
The Boltons of Pelham Priory is the first exhibition to study the impressive legacy left by this family in the areas of religion, education, and the arts. It features historic references and memorabilia that span the nineteenth century, including contemporaneous documents, artwork, rare books, and period furniture.
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5 Dutch Days 5 Boroughs
As part of the 2009 5 Dutch Days 5 Boroughs celebration, an exhibition of contemporary Dutch design was on display at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. Curated by Jo-Anneke van der Molen, the show intermingled contemporary Dutch design objects with the museum's 19th-century furnishings and decorative arts in a glorious Greek Revival interior.
The area surrounding Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum was known to Dutch settlers in the early 17th century as Vriedelandt – Land of Peace – although in fact it was far from peaceful (Anne Hutchinson, who was killed by Indians, lived in the area). Beautiful and serene today, the 19th-century mansion, tucked away in the northeast corner of Pelham Bay Park, is the only extant great country house of close to two dozen that once dotted the area. To celebrate the area's Dutch heritage, decorative arts by prominent Dutch designers as well as graduates of the renowned Design Academy Eindhoven are showcased side-by-side the museum's collection, providing a provocative contrast between the 21st and the 19th centuries.
The objects on view were either inspired by forms and materials found in nature, an attempt to bring the outside in, or clever re-imaginings of traditional decorative arts. Many pieces illustrated the Dutch relationship to its environment in our mechanized age. Others were inspired by traditional forms but were given a contemporary twist. All were original in concept and especially striking juxtaposed with the museum's pieces.
During 5 Dutch Days, the museum was open Thursday, November 12, through Monday, November 16, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Friday, November 13. A free bus from the Museum of Arts and Design was available on Thursday, November 12, through Sunday, November 15.
Lectures: Friday, November 13, 7 p.m., Vriedelandt – Land of Peace? Vriedelandt was the Dutch name for a vast area of the Bronx that included Pelham Bay Park. Museum guide Tom Vasti gives a fascinating glimpse into its Dutch heritage and connection to Anne Hutchinson.
On Sunday, November 15, 2 p.m., Contemporary Dutch Design by Alissia Melka-Teichroew, one of the designers featured in the show, now living and working in New York.