Made for the Trade: Native American Objects in the Winterthur Collection

March 2011–September 30, 2012

Box, unknown Mi'kmaq artist. Nova Scotia, Canada; late 1800s. Birchbark, dyed spruce root, dyed porcupine quills.

Box, unknown Mi'kmaq artist. Nova Scotia, Canada; late 1800s. Birchbark, dyed spruce root, dyed porcupine quills. 1958.1134a,b Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont.

Native American art—a long-overlooked part of the Winterthur collection—was featured in this small but powerful exhibition. Made for the Trade examined these objects’ evolution over time, from tourist souvenir to collected artwork, and presented them as a celebration of American diversity and design.

Native Americans sold bowls, baskets, and pottery to European colonists as early as the 1500s. By the 19th century, tourists to destinations such as Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon expected to see American Indians selling handmade souvenir pots, pincushions, and wall pockets. In the 1920s and ’30s, collectors interested in folk art and the avant-garde began buying Native-made objects to pair with modern paintings or place in Colonial Revival interiors. Henry Francis du Pont, helping set the Americana style trend, used these items in many of his rooms.

With these everyday objects that are masterpieces of beauty and function, Made for the Tradeinvited visitors to discover a new kind of American decorative arts at Winterthur.

Picnic basket

Picnic basket, Tomah Joseph, Passamaquoddy, Maine; 1900–1930. Birchbark, cedar, alder, nails. 1964.793 Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont.


Box, unknown Mi'kmaq artist.

Box, unknown Mi'kmaq artist. Nova Scotia, Canada; late 1800s. Birchbark, dyed spruce root, dyed porcupine quills. 1958.1134a,b Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont.

 

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