What’s New at WDS – August 24, 2020

Everyday Living at WDS

In this week’s Everyday Living at WDS we consider the dog days of summer. If you think the weather has been oppressive, imagine having to dress like Elizabeth Saltonstall Deane—with no air conditioning other than what nature might provide! Dressing for Elizabeth was vastly different from that of women today. She would first don a shift that could serve as either a nightgown or a slip. Stockings came next—wool or linen—up over the knees and held up with garters. Stays made of whalebone or wood (ouch!) would force women into good posture. Petticoats, stomachers (a decorated V-shaped panel to fill in the front opening of a women’s gown or bodice), caps, gowns, a belt and shoes (no right or left, both the same) would complete the look. Here we see portraits from the museum and a reproduction of one of Elizabeth’s dresses.

Collections A-Z – “Q” is for Queen Anne

Different styles of furniture can be found in the three houses of WDS. Styles such as William and Mary, Chippendale, Sheraton, Federal and Empire are incorporated into the furnishing plans. But let’s not overlook an important and locally influential style: Queen Anne.

Named after the English monarch who ruled 1702-1714, the style developed in the 1720s as a late expression of the baroque. Queen Anne style featured an emphasis on curves and lightness of design, an abrupt change from the solid William and Mary style with its emphasis on angular shaping. Queen Anne furniture, in contrast, seems to almost dance around the room on impossibly thin, curved, and tapered legs, like something in a Disney film.

A large high chest in the front bed chamber in the Deane House seems to defy the laws of physics—perched on slim curved legs—as does a tea table in the main bed chamber. Wethersfield furniture makers embraced this style and produced distinctive examples, such as the scallop-top tea table in the Webb House parlor, believed to be the work of either William Manley or Return Belden. The curves in the table’s apron lead to the incredibly delicate legs which seem to make the piece float. So, next time you visit WDS take a close look at these wonderful expressions of 18th century craftsmanship—you won’t be disappointed!

Around the Grounds

This week in “Around the Grounds” Dick shows us the beautiful wrought-iron railing Installed on the mahogany terrace overlooking the Cogswell garden in the first two photos The third photo shows the vertical iron balustrade on the stairs leading to the main floor. This railing is capped with a beautifully stained oak handrail!