Current and Coming features detailed information about current and forthcoming programs, events, exhibits and activities of historical and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania. Originated as “Currents.” Retitled “Current and Coming,” Winter 2003, and then retitled “Out and About,” Fall 2005. Revived as “Current and Coming,” Winter 2013. Ran regularly, Spring 1984 to Spring 2008, and then occasionally, Winter 2013 to Spring 2015.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Acquires Rush Sculptures

Considered by art histo­rians and critics as landmarks in American art, as well as monuments in the history of the arts in Philadelphia, two sculptures by William Rush, Comedy and Tragedy, have been acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. William Rush was America’s first native sculptor.

The pair of over life-size fig­ures were carved in Philadel­phia one hundred and seventy-six years ago and rep­resented William Rush’s first and successful attempt at pub­lic sculpture. Comedy and Trag­edy were purchased from the Edwin Forrest Home, a retire­ment facility for actors, with a grant made to the museum by the Mary Anderson Trust.

The eight and one-quarter feet high sculptures, carved in pine and originally painted white, were commissioned by the New Theatre on Chestnut Street, and were placed in sec­ond-story niches in 1808. Fire destroyed the structure in 1820 but the sculptures were saved. They were rescued a second time in 1855 when the theater was razed and the celebrated actor Edwin Forrest acquired them for “Springbrook,” his estate in the northeast section of the city. Following Forrest’s death, his estate became a home for retired actors and the sculptures remained part of the collection of the Edwin Forrest Home (now located on Parkside Avenue in Philadel­phia). They were placed on long-term loan to the Philadel­phia Museum of Art from 1926 to 1980.

William Rush was born in Philadelphia in 1756, the son of a ship’s carpenter. He fol­lowed in his father’s profession and also gained renown for figureheads of exceptional quality and inventiveness. His career was interrupted by the American Revolutionary War during which he served as an ensign in the Philadelphia Militia. Following the war, he returned to his profession of carver, primarily for merchant vessels, many of which were owned by Stephen Girard. Rush collaborated with artist Charles Willson Peale on ana­tomical carvings, and in 1807 received his first commission for public sculpture: the alle­gorical figures of Comedy and Tragedy.

The sculptor was a promi­nent citizen, active in the civic and cultural life of Philadel­phia until his death in 1833. His work has been presented in two major exhibitions in Philadelphia: the first in 1937 at the museum and the second in 1982 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to celebrate the three hun­dredth anniversary of the city’s founding. Philadelphia claims the largest collection of public sculpture in the United States, a rich tradition that began with Rush’s Comedy and Tragedy in 1808.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Park­way at Twenty-Sixth Street. Comedy and Tragedy have been placed on view in the Great Stair Hall on the museum’s first floor. Information regard­ing visiting hours, admission and group tours is. available by telephoning (215) 763-8100.


Rare Clocks on View in Columbia

James W. Arthur (1842-1930), a Scottish immigrant who settled in Brooklyn, New York, in 1871, was a highly successful manufacturer whose unbridled passion was the collecting of rare and antique watches, clocks and movements. During the last half of the nineteenth century, he single-handedly amassed a collection of more than thir­teen hundred timepieces rep­resenting a chronological his­tory of timekeeping from 1600 to 1900.

Intrigued by timepieces, James W. Arthur designed and built accurate sundials by the age of sixteen. At his machine works company in New York City he experimented with clocks and watches and con­structed works of both wood and aluminum. He also cre­ated unique clock cases, many of which were elaborately dec­orated with inlaid wood.

Upon his retirement in 1925, Arthur donated his priceless accumulation to New York University. The entire col­lection languished in the uni­versity’s holdings until 1964 when it was loaned to the Smithsonian Institution because the school was unable to properly house and display the rare and unusual pieces. It remained intact in Washing­ton, D.C., until last year when much of the collection was turned over to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) Museum in Columbia, Lancas­ter County, following a major court decision.

New York University – fully aware that it would never exhibit the collection – decided to sell it to raise money for its scholarship fund. James W. Arthur’s will specifically pro­hibited the sale of the collec­tion – which had grown by several hundred pieces with additional gifts since 1925 – and the Smithsonian Institu­tion wanted the watches and clocks, together with work­ings, as an outright gift. In the meantime, the Time Museum, a private institution in Rock­ford, Illinois, desired about forty pieces. Pennsylvania’s NAWCC Museum appealed to the court to keep the collection intact, emphasizing that the pieces had been carefully acquired to represent a chron­ological development of time­keeping. To disassemble the collection, argued the NAWCC Museum, was to destroy Arthur’s life’s work and intent.

The court ruled that New York University had no right to sell the collection. To appease the three institutions, how­ever, the collection was divided and the NAWCC Museum received seventeen hundred watches and movements and two hundred clocks and movements. Among the pieces the museum received were a watch manufactured in France about 1610; a 1690 brass table clock by Jeremias Plaff of Augsburg, Germany; a late seventeenth century alarm watch signed by Pierre Blois; an English globe clock made about 1857; and eighteen tall case clocks. One of the most fascinating pieces treasured by the museum is a large sterling silver globe clock by Tiffany & Co. which was awarded a gold medal at the Columbian Expo­sition in Chicago in 1893.

The recently opened “High­lights of the James W. Arthur Collection” exhibition show­cases one hundred objects from the recent acquisition, including many which have been illustrated in The Lure of the Clock, a reference book written by an early curator of the. collection. The exhibition features numerous early and unique timepieces such as a watch crafted by T. Tompion, a famous London maker, in the early eighteenth century; an elaborate nineteenth century mantle clock with a gold­-plated case made by the work­shop of Ferdinand Berthoud; and examples by the noted maker Brequet and the Patek Philippe Company. “High­lights” will be on display through October 31. Admis­sion is charged.

For additional information regarding visiting hours and traveling directions, write: National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, 514 Pop­lar St., Columbia, PA 17512; or telephone (717) 684-8261.


Commonwealth Con­servation Center Opens

A highly advanced techno­logical and scientific facility for the stabilization and preserva­tion of the Commonwealth’s historical objects and art­works, many of which are cen­turies old, has been opened by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in downtown Harrisburg, not far from its headquarters at The State Museum. The new “state of the art” facility is expected to establish standards and practices for other institutions to follow.

The Commonwealth Con­servation Center has been designed to treat small and medium sized objects and arti­facts. Large pieces – such as a Conestoga wagon or an antique automobile – will be dealt with on site or at one of the twenty-seven historic sites and museums throughout Pennsylvania administered by the Commission. The center’s laboratories will handle paint­ings, textiles, papers and objects. Related facilities include an analytical labora­tory, fumigation system, x-ray and photography studios, spray booths, framing work­shop, book bindery, and metal and wood shops.

In addition to conserving priceless and irreplaceable pieces, the Commonwealth Conservation Center will offer workshops and formal training sessions to educate individuals in the proper handling, stor­age and exhibition of a wide variety of materials.

Pennsylvania’s nonprofit and public institutions will also be able to take advantage of services offered by the new center. Objects may be referred to the facility’s experts by state agencies, the legislature, the state courts system, historical societies, historic houses, and art museums and galleries. The Commission’s staff is cur­rently working with the Gen­eral Assembly of Pennsylvania to support the conservation of the extensive color (flag) col­lection on display in the rotunda of the State Capitol. The historic flags will be treated in the center’s textile laboratory by the staff of the Capitol Preservation Commit­tee.

The Commonwealth Con­servation Center is located on the third floor of the former Commonwealth Publications Building at Tenth and Market Streets. For additional infor­mation regarding conservation services available, write: Bruce Bazelon, Bureau of Historical and Museum Services, Penn­sylvania Historical and Museum Commission, P.O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, PA; or telephone (717) 783-9935.


Historic Table Services To Be Shown in Meadville

Meadville’s handsome 1843 Baldwin-Reynolds House will serve as the grand backdrop for an unusual exhibit of his­toric and antique china and table settings opening Sunday, June 16 [1985], and continuing through Saturday, August 4 [1985]. Innovative uses of table set­tings have always been popu­lar with Americans, inspiring books by leading jewelers such as Tiffany & Co., as well as special showings. The exhibit, prepared by the Antique Study Club of Meadville, fea­tures table and tray services in more than a dozen of the man­sion’s twenty-five rooms.

The Baldwin-Reynolds House, ideaUy suited for the exhibition, was built by Henry Baldwin, one of Pennsyl­vania’s prominent political leaders of the first half of the nineteenth century. A native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale University, he spent his professional days in western Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Baldwin served as the first district attorney of Craw­ford County in 1800. Shortly after his marriage in 1805 to Sally Ellicott, daughter of the nation’s first surveyor general under Pres. George Washing­ton, the Baldwins moved to Pittsburgh. The successful lawyer owned several iron fur­naces during the War of 1812 and, five years later, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a congressman for three terms.

Following Andrew Jackson’s election as president in 1828, Henry Baldwin was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a position he held until his death in 1844.

Planning for the historic house began in 1840 and it was completed by 1843. Upon Baldwin’s death, one year after the structure’s completion, his wife leased it to the Meadville Female Seminary which renamed it the “Baldwin Insti­tute.” The house was pur­chased in 1847 by William Reynolds, Baldwin’s nephew, a prosperous attorney and the first mayor of Meadville. Wil­liam Reynolds also served as president of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad. Dur­ing his occupancy, the house was painted white and popu­larly called the “White House of Meadville.”

A featured setting of the exhibit will be the unique Sevres china service, espe­cially made for William Rey­nolds, which was presented to him upon his retirement as president of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad by the line’s employees. Each piece is unique and the molds and pat­terns were destroyed upon the set’s completion. The china will be on view in the large formal dining room, compli­mented with the Reynolds family silver service.

The front parlor of the Baldwin-Reynolds House will showcase a Victorian tea party and Katharine Reynolds’ bed­room will feature a breakfast tray. The children’s nursery will offer a delightful nursery rhyme character tea. The origi­nal ground floor kitchen will feature an ironstone set with a tea leaf pattern and copper lustre decoration.

Admission to the exhibit is $2 per person and includes a tour of the mansion, as well as of a turn-of-the-century rural doctor’s office on the grounds. All tours are conducted by trained guides and last about ninety minutes. The Baldwin­-House Museum, administered by the Crawford County His­torical Society, is open Satur­day, Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. For additional information regarding tours, hours and admission, write: Crawford County Historical Society, 888 North Main St., Meadville, PA 16335; or tele­phone (814) 724-6080.

The mansion is located in a beautifully landscaped three acre park overlooking the French Creek Valley. The street address is 639 Terrace Street.


Vorspiel at the Ephrata Cloister

One of the most famous places in colonial America for original religious choral music was Ephrata Cloister in Lan­caster County, an eighteenth century German Protestant monastic community founded in 1732 by Conrad Beissel, a German Pietist mystic. Ephrata Cloister was one of the earliest of numerous reli­gious and secular communal societies established in America.

Ephrata Cloister’s members sought to serve God in medie­val fashion through lives of austere self-denial and pious simplicity. Its three orders, a brotherhood and a sisterhood, both of which practiced celi­bacy, and a married order of householders, adhered to a rigid life of spiritual purification. In addition to rigorous self-disciplines, such as sleep­ing on board benches and wooden “pillows,” the celibate orders engaged in farming, fruit growing, basket making, printing, book making, car­pentry and milling. Household arts and crafts were also prac­ticed with great skill and refinement. Most of the house­holders were farmers or crafts­men who lived nearby and supported the community’s economy. The society num­bered about three hundred members at the height of its productivity in 1750.

Of its notable contributions to the life and culture of colo­nial America, Ephrata Clois­ter’s offerings included a steady output of books, broad­sides and tracts, the callig­raphic art of Frakturschriften and religious musical composi­tions. Conrad Beissel and his devout followers wrote many hymns exalting the mys­tical life. The founder was one of the country’s first com­posers and wrote the earliest known American treatise on his distinctive music. The Cloister’s music forms the basis of Vorspiel.

The name Vorspiel was derived from the first pub­lished hymnbook, Vorspiel Der Neuen Welt, printed, inciden­tally, by Benjamin Franklin for the community. Translated, the title means “Prelude to the New World” and addresses the society’s attempt to attain a “better union of the soul with God.” The program offers today’s visitors a musical drama depicting eighteenth century communal life.

Performances of Vorspiel are given Saturday evenings beginning July 13 [1985] and continu­ing through the Labor Day [1985] weekend. The performances begin promptly at 9 P. M. Admission is charged.

For additional information, write: Vorspiel, Ephrata Clois­ter, 632 West Main St., Ephrata, PA 17522; or tele­phone (717) 733-4811.

Ephrata Cloister is one of twenty-seven historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


Chester County Exhibitions

Two fascinating exhibitions await summer visitors to the West Chester headquarters and museum of the Chester County Historical Society: “Early Chester County Red­ware,” on display through June 30 [1985], and “The Joiner’s Bench Illuminated,” continu­ing through November 16 [1985].

“Early Chester County Red­ware” features more than thirty examples of antique red­ware produced by local potter­ies and potters. Pieces in the exhibition date from the early through the late nineteenth century and have been selected from the society’s holdings, as well as public and private collections. Many of the specimens are signed by the potters or emblazoned with the names of the original owners.

“The Joiner’s Bench Illumi­nated” examines in depth the woodworker’s bench. Included are the taped reflections of an opinionated journeyman joiner who will tell the visitor how to use his bench, thereby encouraging a greater under­standing of the simple-yet functional- beauty of this important tool.

For additional information regarding the concurrent exhi­bitions, visiting hours and admission rates, write: Ches­ter County Historical Society, 225 North High St., West Chester, PA 19380; or tele­phone (215) 692-4800.


Citizen Penn

More than three centuries after they founded their beloved province, William Penn and his second wife, Hannah, were granted honor­ary American citizenship. Pres. Ronald Reagan signed the resolution passed by Con­gress in October 1984.

The Penns are only the third and fourth individuals awarded honorary citizenship. British statesman Winston Churchill was the first and the second was Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis during World War II and is believed by some to be still imprisoned in the Soviet Union.

In establishing Pennsyl­vania, William Penn compen­sated Indians for the land despite the 1681 Charter from England’s King Charles II which gave him the territory outright. The founder created an unusual province dedicated to justice, religious tolerance and individual rights. The resolution passed by Congress cited Penn for his commitment to representative government, public education, civil liberties and the religious freedom now guaranteed by the First Amendment. It honored him as “a far-sighted reformer” who established public trials and a fair trial by peer juries, limited capital punishment and substituted workhouses for prisons. The citizenship resolution also recognized Penn for his pacifist beliefs and his proposal for a Parlia­ment of Nations similar to today’s United Nations.

The resolution noted that Hannah Callowhill Penn administered the province for six years and “like her hus­band, devoted her life to the pursuit of peace and justice.”


Rare Glass Catalogue Acquired by The State Museum

The State Museum of Penn­sylvania recently acquired, through purchase, a 1916 cata­logue of lead blown glassware issued by the Bryce Brothers Company of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County. The catalogue significantly enhances the museum’s important collection of rare Pennsylvania glass manufac­turers’ catalogues ranging from the 1880s to the 1930s. The Bryce Brothers Company cata­logue is particularly prized because it offers a graphic sampling of blown glass and reflects an important glass making technique. Most of the museum’s catalogues illustrate press-molded glass.

Furnished to the trade­ – wholesalers and dealers – the large, handsomely illustrated catalogue, measuring nineteen by twelve inches, was to be returned on completion of an order. It is printed in dark brown ink on heavy cream col­ored stock. Many of the illus­trations are full-scale depic­tions and demonstrate the wide variety of glass items manufactured by the Bryce Brothers Company.

The Bryce Brothers Com­pany seemingly furnished an item for almost any purpose or occasion; the firm offered gob­lets, wines, ales, parfaits, hot whiskies, nappies, oyster cocktails, vases and tumblers in numerous styles and sizes. The glass could be ordered plain or decorated with cutting, sandblasting, needle etched designs or gold banding.

Curators and collectors will use the catalogue as an invalu­able research tool for identify­ing and documenting exam­ples of the Bryce Brothers Company’s work. The cata­logue was purchased with funds provided by the Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation and the Ridgeview Garden Club with a matching grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.


Benjamin West Portraits Given to Historical Society

Two exceptionally rare eighteenth century portraits have recently been given to the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester. The paintings, by Benjamin West (1738-1820), the foremost American artist of his day, depict Jane Morris, age five, and her three year old brother, Robert, the children of John and Elizabeth Taylor Morris of Marple (then Chester County). The portraits, painted about 1753, are the earliest known works by West.

Benjamin West was born in Springfield (Pennsylvania), the youngest of ten children of John West, a British cooper turned American innkeeper. West was given his first set of paints by a visitor to the family inn who encouraged his talent by also giving him several pre­pared canvases and some engravings. He later studied art in Italy and in London, where he established himself as historical painter to King George III. In England, West taught art to many notable painters, including Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Samuel F.B. Morse and John Trumbull.

John Morris owned a store near the West family inn and young Benjamin West waited on Morris’s customers. West’s portraits of the Morris children are painted in a flat, primitive style that is characteristic of early self-taught American ar­tists. During the eighteenth century, most American artists who lacked formal art training, including West, copied printed mezzotints and engravings. The stiff, mannered poses, European-style backgrounds and decorative embellishments of the columns and drapery found in the portraits of the Morris children suggest that West drew heavily on engrav­ings as sources for his earliest attempts at portraiture.

The portraits of Jane and Robert Morris were first exhib­ited at the 1907 Jamestown Exposition and they were last shown in 1938 at the Philadel­phia Museum of Art’s major Benjamin West retrospective. The pair descended in the family of the sitters and were donated by heirs.

The paintings can be seen through September 2 [1985]. Visiting hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.; Wednesday, 1 to 8 P.M. Admission is charged. For further information, write: Chester County Historical Society, 225 North High St., West Chester, PA 19380.


American Works on Paper at Carnegie

When artist John Sloan visited the Carnegie Institute in 1907, he made no note of the paintings he saw, but com­mented on the quality of the collection of drawings by American artists. Sloan’s remarks are one of the few recorded testimonials to the quality and diversity of a col­lection which, while one of the finest of its type, is little known today – even to scholars and advanced students in the American field. To heighten public awareness of the collec­tion, a traveling exhibition of American watercolors and drawings from the Carnegie Institute’s Museum of Art will showcase the splendid works in Pittsburgh until July 21 [1985].

“American Watercolors and Drawings” features more than one hundred masterworks spanning the history and evo­lution of American draughts­manship from the mid-eight­eenth century to the present. Following its Pittsburgh run, the exhibition will travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, to com­memorate the sesquicentennial of Andrew Carnegie’s birth. The show will begin its Ameri­can tour in 1986 at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

A significant portion of the Museum of Art’s collection, which today includes works by acclaimed artists as diverse as Winslow Homer, Frederic Remington, Edward Hopper and Franz Kline, was painstak­ingly assembled at the turn of the century by John Beatty, the museum’s first director. While other institutions were acquir­ing American drawings rather haphazardly, Beatty and his consultant, art critic Sadakichi Hartmann, systematically set out to document the develop­ment and progress of Ameri­can draftsmanship. Between 1904 and 1922, the year Beatty retired, the museum acquired one hundred and eighty-seven of the more than five hundred works on paper now in the collection.

John Beatty, a personal appointee of institute founder Andrew Carnegie, was well known among dealers and gal­leries for his shrewd transac­tions. He resorted to a variety of ploys to ensure low prices, often buying works in lots or directly from an artist’s estate. Some of his “bargains” included major pieces by Homer, Remington, John White Alexander, Thomas Moran, John Lafarge, William Glackens, Eastman Johnson, Maxfield Parrish, Maurice Prendergast, Childe Hassam and Thomas Dewing. Oddly enough, Beatty did little to publicize these astute pur­chases and the works were sel­dom displayed during his tenure.

“American Drawings and Watercolors” is accompanied by a color-illustrated catalogue partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). For more information regarding exhibi­tion dates and visiting hours for the entire national tour, write: Museum of Art, Carne­gie Institute, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213; or tele­phone (412) 622-3328.