J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

“Neoclassicism” Seminar in Deerfield, 14-16 Nov.

This weekend Historic Deerfield will host a three-day seminar titled “Borrowing from Antiquity, Designing a New Republic: Neoclassicism in America.”
The three-day forum will explore the new design style developed in France and England in the mid-18th century and made popular in the newly-formed United States as the Federal style. Harkening back to the shapes and ornaments of classical Greece and Rome, antiquity became a source of inspiration for architecture, furniture, and household decoration, and can be seen in decorative arts ranging from porcelain vases to mahogany sideboards.

The frequent use of swags, urns, and elliptical motifs, along with the application of bright and varied color palettes and symmetry, are expressions of Neoclassical style. These design traits appeared in coastal urban centers by the early 1790s, and soon became fashionable in more rural areas, supported by those who wished to demonstrate their awareness of the latest fashion. Like their European counterparts, American builders, architects, and cabinetmakers were influenced by pattern books that emphasized the clean, geometric lines and more delicate Neoclassical detailing.
Speakers and sessions include:
  • Gordon S. Wood, the author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution, on why Americans became so excited about Neoclassicism.
  • Susan Schoelwer, Robert H. Smith Senior Curator of Mount Vernon, on recent research into George Washington’s “New Room.”
  • David C. Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps at Historic Deerfield, on maps of the Federal period, their decorative elements, and use as wall hangings.
  • Robert Mussey, retired conservator, on Neoclassical furniture produced in Boston.
  • Cabinetmaker Alan Breed will demonstrate his skills carving a replica of a Federal-style bed.
  • William Hosley, Principal of Terra Firma Northeast, on Asher Benjamin (1773-1845), author of  The Country Builder’s Assistant (1797).
  • Philip Zea, President of Historic Deerfield, on the consumer revolution in rural New England.
  • Stephen Fletcher, Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts at Skinner, Inc., on restoring an 1830 Greek Revival granite captain’s house.
  • William A. Flynt, Architectural Conservator, Historic Deerfield, “Neoclassical Architecture Along Deerfield’s Old Main Street.”
  • Allan Breed, Master Cabinetmaker, The Breed School, on “Gouge-Cut Inlays.”
  • David E. Lazaro, Associate Curator of Textiles and Collections Manager, Historic Deerfield, “‘The Difference and Quick Transition of Fashion’: Exploring Neoclassical Style in Historic Deerfield’s Fashion and Textile Collection.”
  • Amanda Lange, Curatorial Department Director and Curator of Historic Interiors, Historic Deerfield, “Inspired by Pompeii: Neoclassical Ceramics for the American Home.”
For a full schedule and registration fees, including some extra workshops listed above, see the Historic Deerfield website.

The Neoclassical image above comes from the Skinner Inc., a sponsor of this seminar.

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