Treasures

Door Curtain

Door Curtain

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Margaret Whiting based the design of this Blue and White door hanging on the designs of two 18th-century embroiderers, Keturah Baldwin and Sarah Snell.

In the summer of 1897, Margaret and Ellen Miller visited Dorset, Vermont, where they were allowed to sketch the "carefully preserved...embroideries," created by Keturah Baldwin around 1760 (it was believed) and "which apparently had never been used."1 Motifs from these sketches were incorporated into a variety of Blue and White embroideries, and in this piece, inspired the central vase of flowers. Shortly after Miller and Whiting saw it, the 18th-century embroidery stitched by Baldwin was destroyed by fire.

The flowering vines which emerge from the vase and grow along the sides of Whiting's door curtain were inspired by Sarah Snell's methodically designed bed furnishings created about 1770. Snell was the grandmother of William Cullen Bryant (a fact always noted in Blue and White Society labels and reviews). Margaret Whiting mused that Sarah Snell's "mind was incapable of divigations and excursions into any tentative bypaths of invention. It is doubtful if she ever did a thing 'just to see how it would look.'"2

Whiting's door hanging was shown at the first exhibition held by the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society in March 1898. It would later appear in exhibitions in Norwich, Connecticut, Boston, Massachusetts and Deerfield. In 1899, it may have been among the pieces exhibited at a show in California. Margaret Whiting kept this portiere in her possession for the remainder of her life.

  1. Margaret Whiting handwritten notes, collection of Rhode Island School of Design.
  2. Margaret Whiting, "Colonial Embroidery," 27.

Date:
1898
Creator:
Margaret C. Whiting
Dimensions:
H. 93" x W. 76"