An Installation Guest Curated by Caroline Drabik on View March 15-June 30, 2021
The mansion’s second floor parlor furnishings are accompanied by musical equipment representing the progression of technology that made possible the enjoyment of musical performance at home from the 19th century upright piano to 21st century digital streaming. The museum presents this during Women’s History Month to celebrate women’s rich contributions to making music despite restrictive societal norms. Audio of female artists from pivotal decades in music technology accompany the installation which begins with a kick-off livestreamed performance by musical artist dolltr!ck from the mansion’s formal parlors.
Wish You Were Here…
Postcards of Pelham Bay Park and the East Bronx
Before email, twitter, and social media there were postcards! Tour bygone places and spaces of the east Bronx through postcards dating to the turn of the 19th century. Views of historic inns, beaches, street, and park scenes from the collection of Thomas X. Casey offer insight into changes in landscapes and lifestyles over the past century. Tom Casey’s collection includes more than 6,000 vintage Bronx postcards dating from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Casey is co-author of Northwest Bronx and Bronx Views, and a founding member of the East Bronx History Forum. He has lectured at the Bronx County Historical Society, Kingsbridge Historical Society, Westchester Genealogical Society, New York Public Library, City Island Historical Society and local public schools. View the online exhibition here.
Gaston Lachaise Peacocks
Peacock (Short-tailed), 1920; Peacock (Long-tailed), 1928 Bronze with gilding, cast in 2002 at the Modern Art Foundry, New York
The agricultural industrialist James Deering commissioned Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935) to create the short-tailed peacock in 1920 for Vizcaya, his country estate south of Miami. Architect Philip Goodwin commissioned the long-tailed peacock in 1928 for a fountain at his estate in Syosset, Long Island. The formal gardens of Bartow-Pell were conceived and constructed circa 1916 by the prominent architectural firm of Delano & Aldrich and recently restored in 2013.In a poetic twist, Goodwin worked for Delano & Aldrich between 1914-1916. Both are on loan to the museum through 2025 courtesy of the Lachaise Foundation and in cooperation with the public art program of the New York City Parks Department.
The third floor attic space served as the living quarters for many Irish immigrant women who resided at the mansion and served the Bartow family between 1840 and 1880. The space is sparsely decorated with four beds, a washstand, mending baskets, and an ironing workstation, as well as steamer trucks that could have held meager possessions for the young women who fled their country during the potato famine of the 1840s. All of this provides a stark contrast with the elegantly appointed period rooms on the first and second floors. This interpretive space speaks to immigration issues so that visitors can make connections between historical events and today. Family life, leaving home for a better future, and the struggles of daily work resonate with both new immigrant populations and those who have called America home for generations.
The Bartows had three daughters—Catharine (1830–1907), Clarina (1838–1898), and Henrietta (1843–1902). This room is interpreted as the bedroom where one or two of the girls might have slept after leaving the nursery wing, which has not been restored and is closed to the public. The ca. 1820 mahogany four-poster bed resembles those made by Duncan Phyfe (1768–1854), a leading New York Scottish-born cabinetmaker.
The original wall treatment in this room is unknown, although wallpaper might have been used. Country houses were far from the gasline network that served cities, and so they relied on candles and oil lamps (like the Argand ones seen here and throughout the house). Mirrors reflected additional light, enlivening evening activities. A portrait of Charles and Emma Beach by the American painter James Shegogue (1806–1872) hangs above the large sideboard, which was made by the children’s grandfather, Moses Yale Beach (1800–1868), a cabinetmaker and later the owner of the New York Sun. The portrait of Hannah Lang Gamble (1783–1861) as a young woman depicts the mother-in-law of Robert Bartow’s brother Edgar John Bartow.
Typical of the Greek Revival style, the double parlors are mirror images, creating symmetry and harmony as well as providing a grand space for formal entertaining. Each room, however, features a different decorative motif in the finely carved window and door pediments. Eagles, a patriotic symbol of the American ideal of unity and strength, adorn the south parlor, and winged cherub heads grace the pediments in the north parlor. Ornamentation also includes palmettes, acanthus leaves, and lotus leaves. Sliding mahogany pocket doors offer flexibility, transforming a large space into individual rooms that are more intimate and more economical to heat. Through the door on the north wall, servants had immediate access to the kitchen and serving areas.