The public is invited to a special Wallace Nutting Weekend in Wethersfield, September 22 -24, 2016, in conjunction with the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum exhibition: “Wallace Nutting: Preservation Pioneer,” which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Nutting’s opening of the historic Joseph Webb House to the public. Hosted by the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club, the weekend includes the group’s fall conference, including a lecture, auction, marketplace and presentations. Admission to all Wallace Nutting Weekend events is free. Tours of the Nutting exhibition at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum are $8. The exhibition is made possible with financial support from Connecticut Humanities, and will run through October 30, 2016.
The highlight of the weekend will be an auction of Wallace Nutting furniture, hand-colored photographs, books and memorabilia, and hand-colored photographs by other early 20th-century photographers, including Charles Sawyer, David Davidson and Fred Thompson. Of particular interest to collectors will be a rare, ironwork candle stand, and a Chippendale-style mirror, and several rare pictures, including “The Brook Ford,” “A Connecticut Nest,” “Raking in the Meadow,” “Somerset Highway,” “Four O’ Clock” and “A Garden Running Over.”
Wallace Nutting Weekend Schedule of Public Events
Thursday, September 22
Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum Fall Lecture, Webb Barn, 211 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT
6:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Wine reception prior to the presentation.
6:30 p.m. – Michael Ivankovich lecture: “Wallace Nutting Overview – 1861-1941”
Friday, September 23, 2016
Michael Ivankovich Auction #88. Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 300 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Auction Preview
3:00 p.m. – Auction
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Fall Conference – Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 300 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Buy, sell and trade at the Wallace Nutting Marketplace
10:00 a.m. – noon – Wallace Nutting Presentations:
- “Wallace Nutting’s Chain of Colonial Picture Homes,” by Jan Liberatore. An overview of Nutting’s Five Colonial Houses with an exhibit of a one-of-a-kind Wallace Nutting book on the Hazen Garrison House.
- “How One Wallace Nutting Picture Turned Into An Obsession,” by Diane Thompson-Naylor
- “Wallace Nutting Furniture: Beyond the Basics” by Michael Ivankovich
Michael Ivankovich is the country’s leading authority on Wallace Nutting pictures, books, and furniture, and has been conducting Wallace Nutting Auctions for nearly 30 years. He has lectured on Wallace Nutting before innumerable groups, and is the author of “The Collectors Guide to Wallace Nutting Pictures,” “The Collectors Guide to Wallace Nutting Furniture,” “The Alphabetical & Numerical Index to Wallace Nutting Pictures,” and more. He is a licensed antiques auctioneer, a Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice-certified appraiser, and a professional home downsizing expert. He has authored “Home Downsizing in 4 Easy Steps.” His radio show, “What’s It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser,” airs on WBCB 1490 AM in the Philadelphia area, and can be heard at: www.WBCB1490.com/live.php
“Wallace Nutting: Preservation Pioneer” Exhibit
The Joseph Webb House is the heart of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, and is best known as the home where General George Washington stayed for five nights in 1781 while he and French General Rochambeau planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War. When Nutting acquired the Webb House in 1916, he named it “Hospitality Hall,” making it part of his “Chain of Colonial Picture Houses” —historic sites in New England that were part of Nutting’s business plan to promote a nostalgic appreciation of “Old America.” From the beginning, Nutting intended to use the Webb House primarily as a backdrop for his colonial-style prints, which became ubiquitous in American homes in the early 20th century.
According to Charles T. Lyle, executive director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, and curator of the exhibit, “The sheer quantity of things Nutting did in his lifetime is remarkable.” Lyle explains that as an entrepreneur and businessman, the Nutting name stood for quality and was as influential in the early 20th century as Martha Stewart’s brand of “Living” is today. “But it goes beyond that,” Lyle says. “Wallace Nutting was a true pioneer in the emerging fields of historic preservation, and in the study and appreciation of American decorative arts and architecture.” Lyle explains that in addition to being a popular artist/photographer and manufacturer of quality reproduction furniture, Nutting was also a respected collector of American antiques, restorer of historic buildings, and a noted author and lecturer. “Nutting created an aesthetic that popularized the use of American antiques that people wanted to have in their own homes and could live with comfortably.”
Visitors to the “Wallace Nutting: Preservation Pioneer” exhibit ultimately gain a better understanding of how the Colonial Revival has shaped our contemporary perceptions about colonial America. Lyle has acquired Nutting furniture, ironwork, wooden treenware and a number of hand-colored prints for the exhibit, with many of the items on loan from members of the Wallace Nutting Collector’s Club. Lyle has also recreated a scene in the Webb House that is depicted in one of Nutting’s most famous prints, “Birthday Flowers,” using a mannequin in reproduction 18th-century clothing, and other distinguishing details.
Nutting’s restoration of the Webb House in 1916 included a number of murals, many of which can be seen today due to restoration by the museum several years ago. Nutting had the center hall decorated with painted murals depicting romanticized views of European castles, but they were painted over in the 1920s and cannot be restored. The most prominent features of Nutting’s Webb House restoration that remain are the historic murals in the two front parlors. The southeast (“Yorktown”) parlor murals depict the famous council of war between George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau. Also portrayed is the British surrender at Yorktown. The northwest parlor murals capture noteworthy historic houses in imaginary landscapes, including several of the other “links” in his chain of houses. Other rooms in the Webb House were also used as stage sets for Nutting’s photographs.
Nutting opened the Webb House to the public with a 25-cent admission charge. During the first two years of operation there were over 2,000 visitors. But Lyle notes that America’s entry into World War I, and the subsequent rationing of gas, seriously affected automobile touring. Nutting had no choice but to close the house and he sold it to the Connecticut Society of Colonial Dames in 1919. It has remained in their care ever since. In 1925, Nutting sold his furniture collection to J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr., who donated it to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. As a result, today the Atheneum claims the most important collection of “Pilgrim Century” furniture in the nation.
About the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club
The Wallace Nutting Collectors Club began in 1973 and has members throughout the United States. Its objective is to help members learn more about Wallace Nutting, the man, and his works, and is an ideal way to connect with other Nutting collectors and dealers, and learn about events and special information that are of interest to the Wallace Nutting collector. For more information see: http://www.wallacenutting.org.
About Connecticut Humanities
Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, provides opportunities to explore the history, literature and the vibrant culture that make our state, cities and towns attractive places to live and work. Learn more by visiting cthumanities.org.