“There wasn't much reading in this beautiful little gift "Book for Special Days." Photos of artwork are gorgeously displayed on the left-hand pages with a 7-day calendar on the right. Each photo has a paragraph describing it. The fascinating history of the museum is told in the introduction.
The Shelburne was founded in 1947 by Electra Havemeyer Webb near the shores of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. Her parents, Mr, and Mrs H.O. Havemeyer, along with their friend, the artist Mary Cassatt, had amassed one of the earliest collections of Old Masters and European Impressionist paintings. They were appalled when their daughter started collecting "junk," i.e. Early American Folk Art.
When she married Cornielius Vanderbilt's great-grandson Watson Webb in 1910, she became mistress of estates in Vermont and Long Island, as well as a 17-room apartment on NY's Park Avenue. As her "junk" collection started taking over their homes, Mrs Webb began the Shelburne Museum in 1947 with one building on 8 acres, so the public could enjoy her collection of primitive paintings, glass, china, dolls, sculptures, hunting decoys, period costumes, weather vanes, etc. She also began buying old buildings and had them dismantled, moved to her museum, and reconstructed on the grounds. Today there are 35 exhibition buildings, including a school house, a general store, jail, Adirondack hunting lodge, lighthouse, a half-dozen Early American homes, and the historic steamship, the Ticonderoga.
Some of the most interesting folk art included in the book include a very elaborate squirrel cage for a child's pet, complete with round "treadmill" which moved carved figures on top as the squirrel worked out. Also featured were intricately detailed carved carousel animals (my favorites were the saddled and bridled tiger, billy goat and lion), a circus equestrian weather vane, and exquiste handcrafted rugs and quilts.
I hope to take a road trip around New England someday, and the Shelburne will be a must-see stop on my travel itinerary. ”
CC wrote this review Monday, December 31, 2012.