Profiles and Poetry: Bounty from a Holiday Giving Tree

The old Bartow mansion looks especially beautiful during the holiday season. Bedecked with festive greenery, garlands, twinkling fairy lights, and storybook Christmas trees, the house is a place where dreams really can come true.

2012.04 328x377

Unknown Gentleman, 1846. Cut-out and gilded silhouette on paper.
Bartow-Pell Landmark Fund in honor
of Mary Means Huber 2012.04

“What do we need to acquire for the collection?” the holiday committee asked me a couple of weeks before our upcoming fundraisers. “We’re thinking about including a holiday giving tree for one or two objects.” Here was a chance to turn curatorial dreams into reality!

The walls in George Bartow’s bedchamber were a little bare, and for some time we had thought that a full-length silhouette portrait of a gentleman would be ideal there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get one? And what better way to celebrate the success of our recent exhibition Shade and Shadow: A Selection of British and American Silhouettes?

It was easy to come up with another item on our wish list. Robert Bartow owned a publishing company with his brothers William Augustus and George, producing handsome leather-bound books from about 1815 to 1826. Their most ambitious project was a multi-volume series of British poetry. Our goal is to collect each one since Mr. Bartow undoubtedly had a complete set here.


Teenage Boy with a Top Hat, 2nd quarter of the 19th century. Watercolor on paper.
Bartow-Pell Landmark Fund 2012.05

And now for the happy ending. We were able to buy not one, but two silhouettes for George’s bedchamber—a dapper gentleman and a teenage boy—and three poetry books by Burns, Milton, and James Thomson (now in the south parlor bookcase).

We are grateful to each and every generous donor for making our dreams come true. Thank you!

Margaret Highland

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