A Pair of Portraits

When I think of historical objects, I tend to think literally and picture everyday objects, like utensils, tools, and written documents. Within this mindset, I place art into its own category as I view art as more than just an object. This separation stems from the fact that I have grown up loving and appreciating art, but also due to how the term “art” is given a particular significance. Labeling something as a work of art often implies greater value, more depth, and asks for wonder and awe. However, it is through viewing pieces of art as both objects and works of art that a complete understanding can be made. For this project, I chose to research a pair of pastel portraits from the Huguenot Street Collection, to understand how they were significant both as objects and as works of art. These portraits are of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck, created by the artist Micah Williams.

The pastel portraits are of standard size for artist Micah Williams, 32 inches in height and 28 inches in width. They are done on a “stretched paper” framed together and reinforced with newspaper clippings on the back of the pastel paper (Choi & Makin 131). This was done so that Williams did not have to travel with as many supplies such as an easel. However, since these panel assemblies were makeshift they are extremely fragile and susceptible to tearing and fracturing (Choi & Makin 131). Within his portraits, Williams paid extreme attention to detail, including all the minor details that the subjects wanted; such as the jewelry, intricate clothing textures like those in collars and sleeves, and hairstyle. Furthermore, this attention to detail extends into the faces of both Jane Van Winkle Elting and Agustus Hasbrouck. They appear here looking rather serious with only small smiles, in their best clothes and jewelry. In order to succeed at such detail, Williams mixed and layered different pigments within each portrait, to individualize the facial features of each subject.

These images depict where the portraits hang now, in the Southeast Bedroom of the Deyo House. They are preserved in gilded frames and depict the couple in their best attire. Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck is wearing a black dress, and adorned in jewelry. While Augustus Hasbrouck is wearing a white shirt with a ruffled cravat, a waistcoat, and black jacket.

The portraits originally sold in the early 1930’s by descendants of the NJ Hasbrouck family, in Hurley, NY. The portraits later became a part of the Historic Huguenot collection through Fred Johnston of Kingston in 1979. Fred Johnston was an antiques dealer in located in Kingston, who turned his home into both his shop and a museum (Kirby). The Fred Johnston House was built in 1812 by John Sudam, a prominent local attorney, state senator and member of the state Board of Regents (Kirby). Fred Johnston applied for a loan and bought the house to save it from being turned into a gas station, and devoted his life to restoring and preserving the local history of the area (Friends of Historic Kingston & Kirby). Prior to his purchase of the house, it was owned by the Ven Leuven family and their descendants (Friends of Historic Kingston & Kirby).The significance of these portraits goes far beyond what I imagined. Not only do these portraits tell the story of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck and their life connected to Huguenot Street, but also of antique’s dealer Fred Johnston of Kingston, and of the artist Micah Williams of New Jersey.

Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck was a daughter of Reverend Wilhelmus Elting and Jane Houseman, who married Augustus Hasbrouck of the Shawangunks region. According to Hasbrouck, she inherited 100 acres of land in her father’s will, near the Passaic River (112). Furthermore, she created the designs for the Octagon House in New Jersey, that she and her husband lived in (Brown et. al 126). An Elting family descendant, she is an example of how her family flourished despite not being original settlers to Huguenot settlements. Furthermore, it is noted that the Elting family line was known for bring church-goers, moral, thrifty, hospitable, and blunt (Lefevre 498). Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck, was the mother to sixteen children from her marriage to August Hasbrouck, and raised them all in New Jersey farmland (Hasbrouck 113).

Augustus Hasbrouck is the son of Joseph Issac Hasbrouck and Cornelia Hasbrouck. Father to the sixteen children he shared with Jane, he was a well respected farmer from Goshen, New York (Hasbrouck 113). According to the full obituary found in the Hasbrouck family history, he died of a bladder disease on September 9, 1809 in the Hasbrouck family home (Hasbrouck 113). For the majority of his adult life, he lived with Jane and their family in the farmlands of New Jersey, until shortly before his death when they moved to New York (Hasbrouck 113). According to Hasbrouck, “the deceased was a quiet, upright citizen, who probably had not an enemy in the world” (113). Augustus and Jane therefore, had some status as they were able to have these portraits commissioned from Williams.

Through Fred Johnston, these portraits were able to remain a part of the Hudson Valley’s history and eventually return to Huguenot Street. His work as an antique dealer not only preserved history in Kingston, but also allowed for history to be preserved in New Paltz, and spread knowledge between these communities. Furthermore, his role in these portraits story allows the narrative to become larger than just Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck, by including the greater communities story.

These paintings also add another level of community history due to their creator and original artist. Micah Williams was a self-trained artist, who had previously had a career as a silver plate craftsmen (La Gorce). Known as a folk artist, he traveled from home to home across New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to complete each portrait (La Gorce). Williams and his wife had seven children together and raised them in New Jersey and some of them later in New York (Rogoff 16). Portraits by Williams would have cost somewhere between five and ten dollars at the times of their creation in the mid eighteen hundred, now cost around sixty-thousand dollars for collectors (La Gorce). Williams knew that pursuing an art career would not ease financial burdens, and was often in debt, at one point even in debtors prison (Rogoff 12). However, he did not let financial burden stop him from pursuing his art career, and his works are now desired by folk art collectors. Williams work reflects the history of the time, as portraits were the method through families were documented. Furthermore, his work demonstrates the significance of the area and of Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck. These portraits represent both historical objects and incredible works of art that tell the story of the individuals within the frame, but also of those around it.

Works Cited

Brown, T. Robins., et al. The Architecture of Bergen County, New Jersey: the Colonial Period to the Twentieth Century. Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Choi, Soyeon, and Jessica, Makin. “Treatment and Housing Techniques for Pastel Paintings on Paper: Case Studies.” Book and Paper Group Session, AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting. Book and Paper Group Session, AIC’s 41st Annual Meeting, Indianapolis. http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v32/bp32-06.pdf  

“The Fred J. Johnston House.” Friends of Historic Kingston, 19 Feb. 2018, www.fohk.org/welcome/our-properties/the-fred-j-johnston-house/.

Gorce, Tammy La. “Mysteries of an Unusual Traveling Salesman.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/nyregion/mysteries-of-an-unusual-traveling-salesman.html.

Hasbrouck, Kenneth E. The Hasbrouck Family in America. I & II, Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, New York, 1987.

Kirby, Paul.“Museum Celebrates Fred Johnston Home’s 200th Birthday in Uptown Kingston.” Daily Freeman, The Daily Freeman, 9 Apr. 2012, www.dailyfreeman.com/news/museum-celebrates-fred-johnston-home-s-th-birthday-in-uptown/article_eaf2023e-2e8e-542e-960f-774fb3a0bfe8.html.

Le Fevre, Ralph. “History of New Paltz, New York, and Its Old Families (from 1678 to 1820).” Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=J3MzN2gTQfgC&pg=PA497&lpg=PA497&dq=Jane Van Winkle Elting Hasbrouck and Augustus Hasbrouck&source=bl&ots=ps2CZC2JbP&sig=ACfU3U0_bI7gTuasMKvPvYmnsMihlFEDWg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwixtLCA2-bhAhVrk-AKHS9wAgU4ChDoATAAegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Augustus Hasbrouck&f=false.

Rogoff, Bernadette M. Micah Williams, Portrait Artist. Monmouth County Historical Association, 2013. http://media.icompendium.com/karenbri_MW-All.pdf

A jar filled with inspiration

This week I am choosing to describe two objects that together are significant to me. One is a glass jar, that was actually designed as a candle holder. I got this as a gift for christmas two years ago, and keep it on my desk here at school. At first, I knew I could not use this as it was designed, as candles are not allowed in the dorms, but I have kept the same use for it even after moving out. I use this jar to store the bottom of my to-do lists or grocery lists every few days. These lists, are the second item, and were a gift that I received after graduating high school. This notepad of lists has inspirational quotes on the bottom, and after each of my lists are complete or crossed off, I cut or rip off the quote at the bottom and store them in this jar.

The jar has succulents all over it, as a reminder of how I love these plants and the desert. The top is a rose gold color, and very shiny, as you can see your reflection in it. The jar was made in China, and purchased at the store Francesa’s.

The notepad, is also made in China, but originally purchased at TJ Maxx. It has a colored cover, and the pages are a cream colored with grey lines and text at the bottom. One thing I love about connecting these items, is that they match very nicely. The greys and blues in the succulents match the cover of the notepad, and the pinks and green succulents stand out more along with rosy top.

While these items are from two different manufacturing companies, and sold at two different stores, they originally both came from China. This was not surprising to me, as most things we purchase come from another country, most of them China. The jar was produced from TMD Holdings company, based primarily in Pittsburgh, PA and in China. This company was large, and manufactured a variety of products, and the website was very business oriented, with its tabs listing the processes of the company and their partners. While the notepad was produced from Eccolo, which is a company that produces stationary and other accessories primarily out of Italy, but has this World Traveler line to include a more global perspective. This website, was very aesthetically pleasing, and more focused on advertising the products than the business or manufacturing process.

What drew me to writing this post was how inseparable these items are to me. I use them together, in a way that is meaningful to me, but they also serve as a reminder of my cousins and the thought they put into purchasing these objects for me. What’s crazy to me is how they were purchased at different times but still work so well together that I almost forget I had one before the other. In the back of the notepad, I still keep the note my cousin wrote when giving me this gift. It is hard for me to separate these items now, because I use them together, and keep them close to each other on my desk. These objects are extremely important to me, because of their practical purpose, but also for how they make me happy, and think of my cousins when I use them.

Where the Hoosier Hutch has been

For this blog, I have decided to look deeper into the chain of ownership of the Hoosier hutch in my dining room. Before diving into my research I thought about how exactly I would do this, and how would I be able to learn more about it. Since the hutch is rather large, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to move such a large object. Therefore, there must be a story somewhere in my family telling about its travels. However, since all the relatives who have had previous ownership of this hutch have since passed away, tracing it back without their help might be very difficult.

A standard Hoosier model

This hutch was originally manufactured in New Castle, Indianna. When researching more about the production company, I discovered just how popular these cabinets were. According to Radford (2013), one in every ten homes in the U.S. had Hoosier kitchen cabinets by nineteen-twenty-one. Most models were designed so that they could be an all in one kitchen work station and storage. Some models had mixers, flour sifters, and baking ingredient specializations. Somewhere in this company’s fourty year business, my great-great-grandparents purchased a specific model of these cabinets. Their cabinet is a right facing one, model number 6001-SGO unit, which is a bit different from the other popular models. It has five shelves, and air flow holes in the top and bottom so that baking supplies will not get stale.

It was shipped from New Castle, Indianna to Hazelton, Pennsylvania, where my great-great-grandparents lived. While I do not know much information about when it was ordered, or how it got to their home in PA, I do think that it was used for baking and kitchen storage. A possible missing link in how this hutch went from my great-great-grandparents to my Poppa, could be through his parents or my great-grandparents. However, this would have meant that the hutch traveled to Brooklyn, New York, which is where my great-grandparents lived and where my Poppa grew up. This sequence in the story, could most definitely be true, and could explain why it had been continually passed down. Having said that, I do know for sure that this hutch traveled to Endicott, New York, at some point over the years, and this is where it remains. It has been in the same house since its arrival here years ago, and has only moved rooms.

Since moving into my grandparents house, almost fifteen years ago, this hutch has been in my dining room. My mom and dad cleaned it up, and brought it back into our dining room. Since it had been moved into the basement where my Poppa used it for tool storage. When I asked my mom for more information, she said her sisters had a hard time deciding who would keep what furniture and other objects that belonged to my grandparents including who would keep this hutch. It was then decided that this hutch, along with a couple other pieces of furniture would stay in the dining room of the house, and this is where this hutch remains. It is now overflowing with baking supplies, like sprinkles, chocolates, containers, aprons, sugar, flower, pots and pans. This is how I’ve always remembered the hutch looking, but now I’m glad that I’ve learned more about it, and how just as our family has moved and changed, so has this Hoosier hutch.

Everything but the kitchen sink in the hutch now

References

Radford, G. (2013). Hoosier kitchen cabinets: An unforgettable impact. The Courier Times. Retrieved from:

http://www.cityofnewcastle.net/eGov/apps/document/center.egov?view=item;id=1117

A Hoosier Hutch

The item I have chosen to follow its chain of ownership within my family is a Hoosier stand-up hutch or cabinet, that I had no idea had been in may family for so long. This hutch belonged to my great-great-grandparents, who gave it to my grandfather, who we inherited it from when we moved into his house after he passed. I was able to go home this past weekend, and this is how I stumbled upon the idea of writing about this hutch. I was talking about family items with my parents, and we all happened to look at the hutch and say something different about it. I immediately knew that the story behind our dining room hutch would hold a lot of value, and that it would be a great item to trace back in history for four generations.

This Hoosier kitchen cabinet was manufactured by the company in New Castle, Indianna. When researching more about this brand and company, I found that our model is a bit different from the standard model that was popular during the time. The standard Hoosier model was a stand-up kitchen cabinet with a work station attached to it, so that one could store items, and prep meals all in one functional place. Our cabinet, is simply just that; a cabinet. It has five cream colored shelves, and storage options on the inside of the door. It has a darkly stained exterior, with some intricate details on the front of the hutch. It has small holes in the back, so that air can move in and out, and items don’t become stale. Hoosier cabinets quickly became staple items in many households, so I was a bit surprised that I could not find more information about other cabinet models like the one I have. There could be many explanations for this, for example maybe my great-great-grandparents purchased this style before the brand became popular, it could have been given as a gift to them, that for them this style was the most logical, or maybe sometime over the years they altered the cabinet.

Some of the details, including a floral pattern

Any of these explanations could be true, but I do know for sure that the use of this cabinet has changed a lot over its time. While I have no way of knowing exactly what my great-great-grandparents used this hutch for, I do think that their use of it was representative of the time. On the label on the back, is my great-great-grandma’s address, where the hutch was shipped to after its manufacture. I am thinking that she used it as it was designed, for kitchen storage of items like baking supplies and spices.

My Great-great-grandmother’s address on the back

Somewhere in this cabinet’s lifetime, it was moved from its home in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, to Endicott, New York. Which is where it has stayed for the past two generations. This was passed down from my great-great-grandparents and given to my Poppa, and the time in between I am unsure who’s possession it remained in, or if it ever changed place or function. When this was given to my Poppa, he kept it in the basement of the house, and used it to store his tools. This is where some of the purposes of this cabinet change, as it has left the kitchen, and now been altered. To organize some of his tools, my Poppa drilled holes in the sides of the cabinet from which to hang things.

The hole in the center at the top, was drilled by my Poppa to hang his tools from

After the passing of my Poppa, my family and I moved into his house, to keep it in the family. Therefore, my house is full of family items and can even be considered one in and of itself. Since this is my mother’s childhood home, we have kept a lot of things the same, only changing those things that no longer serve us, like paint colors and carpets. Since my mother has had it, she has kept it in our dining room, and used it as a baking and spice cabinet. When discussing the hutch, she mentioned how she remembered cleaning the cabinet of my Poppa’s tools and how she and my father brought it upstairs. Growing up, I had no idea this hutch had been in my family for so long, and that it held so much significance. I’m glad I was able to discover a new family object, and trace its lineage over time, and now I hope that one day this cabinet can be found in my own dining room, where my future family will see it.


A Garden Statue

The object I am describing is not one of the items I brought to class, but still holds sentimental value to me. This is a photo on matte board that my cousin’s grandmother had taken. I found this picture two years ago and have been hanging it on my walls ever since. 

The Garden Statue

It is an 8×10 inch photo that is framed by the maroon colored matte board. It is about a third of an inch thick, which makes it great for hanging on the wall. It is not too heavy, and is easily supported by blue painters tape or museum strength hanging putty. The matte board is made up of a mostly paper based concentration, and can have wood pulp or cotton fibers added to it as well. It is smooth to the touch, but also very durable as it is only starting to bend or peel a bit in the corners. My cousin’s grandmother’s signature is also in the bottom right corner below the picture.

I love this picture so much, because of the aesthetic of it. The colors in the flower are bright and beautiful, yet still subdued hues and match the color of the matte board almost perfectly. The statue is holding what looks like a cornucopia of produce, and she seems to be cradling it as one holds a child. All the little details in her appearance make me love this photograph so much; the waves in her hair, the folding of her dress, and how it wraps around her, and how the placement of this statue is so strategic, the flowers in this garden seem to dance, sway, and grow every which way around her.

How a white background changes the effect

The color scheme and amount of detail in this picture are what drew me to it. It has so much going on when you really take a look at everything, but it is also very still, and calming. The colors are pure and relaxed, and do not make me feel overwhelmed when I look at them all. I feel graceful, peaceful, and serene when I see this photograph. It’s also a great connection to my family. While my cousin’s grandmother is not my immediate grandmother, I have always loved her and adored her work. She is an artist, and every time I got to see her I loved being able to explore her in-home studio and see everything she was working on. Unfortunately, she suffered from some severe health problems, and had to move in order to receive the help she needed. I found this picture among many others, when cleaning out her house with my cousins two summers ago. We decided to try and sell some of her artwork, so that others could appreciate it, but when searching through a bin of other 8×10 photos in matte board just like this one, I knew I had to keep it. I have never gotten the chance to ask where this garden statue is, or when she even took this photo, but something about the unknown of it, makes me love it even more. Being able to look at this picture in a new light has made me appreciate it more, and want to be able to explore other items I hold closely, to see what I can say about them, and what they say about me.

Reflection of Tidying Up

I chose to “tidy up” my closet, but I focused only on tops or shirts; particularly sweatshirts, sweaters, cardigans, and long sleeve shirts. I started with around fifty items, and removed fifteen from my closet through this process. When placing all the items into one common place, I realized just how many items of clothing I had and was a bit shocked. I found that this realization was a bit similar to the ones Kondo describes and that is seen in the Netflix series, where people do not realize how much they have until it is in one big pile in front of them. I found myself trying to rationalize how many articles of clothing I had right off the bat, and told myself that it is because I am from upstate where it can be colder, and that I in fact wore all of these items. However, I soon found out that this mindset would get me nowhere, and that I had to take a step back and really find the perspective Kondo describes.

My closet before tidying

After reading the sections from Kondo’s book and watching the series, I knew how the process worked, and I thought it would come relatively easily. However, I found the process a lot harder than I expected it to be. I am a regular cleaner, and enjoy going through my closet and getting rid of what I am not wearing after each season. This process though, was more challenging for me, as finding what sparked joy for me was not as easy as just getting rid of out of season clothes. I found myself thinking about everything that article of clothing was; where I got the article of clothing, who I was with if I purchased it myself, or who gave it to me if it was a gift, and what happened the last time I wore that specific item. Was the memory of that item a good or bad one, how did I feel that last time I wore it, who was with me the last time I wore it, would I find pictures of myself wearing this sweater or sweatshirt in the past, did I enjoy those pictures or did I not want them shared with others? All of these questions circled in my mind throughout this whole process, and made it harder for me to get rid of things. If someone in my family picked out that sweater for me I associated that item with them and found that it was harder to part with, even if I couldn’t feel joy with that item right away, or if a sweatshirt was from a place I traveled too and had great memories from that place I wanted to keep it. I guess in some ways that could be considered bringing me joy, but at the end of this process I felt as if I still had a lot of clothing, and was not successful in “tidying up”.

I think that this feeling of not getting rid of as much as I thought I would or as much as I should can be contributed to many things. Watching the show, the people cleaned their whole living spaces while I only tackled certain items in my closet. I think since I saw them get rid of so much more, I thought I should have more too. I think that this feeling also relates to my relationship with clothes. I have always struggled with body image, and I definitely realized that I have an attachment to certain things. If a sweater or sweatshirt got me through a difficult time or I felt that I looked a certain way in that article of clothing, I found myself wanting to keep it. Even if the item reminded me of that difficult time, or if I was not happy in the item but “looked good” in relation to beauty standards, I held onto it. This dynamic is something I did not foresee being so prominent in my life, and in my closet. Overall, this process opened my eyes to the bigger picture that Kondo describes, and I have come to conclude that I need to more clearly and distinctly figure out what kind of life I want after the tidying process. I think I will try this process again in the future, after I have more concretely decided what I want to get out of it, and hope for a more fulfilling and joyful outcome.

My closet after tidying