First Failey Grant Awarded to Exhibition on Elias Pelletreau

Thanks to the generosity of more than 125 of our members, the Trust’s effort to create a Dean F. Failey Fund in honor of our late Governor was a resounding success. With the aim of directing the fund to support noteworthy research and exhibitions in the field of American decorative art, the Trust was honored to award the inaugural Failey Grant earlier this year to a project near and dear to Dean’s heart.

Throughout his career, from his days as a student at Winterthur through his retirement years after Christie’s, Dean pursued the work of Elias Pelletreau (1726-1810), a prominent Long Island silversmith in the pre- and post-Revolutionary eras. In September 2018, the Long Island Museum will open Elias Pelletreau, Long Island’s Paul Revere: Silversmith, Patriot, and Entrepreneur, which is a natural recipient for the first Failey Grant. Building upon Dean’s extensive research, as well as his sleuthing on the location of extant Pelletreau silver, the show will focus on the silversmith and his clientele and trade in Long Island and the surrounding region.

Like Revere, Pelletreau descended from French Huguenot ancestors and was an ardent patriot during the American Revolution. While Revere was reared in the bustling city of Boston, Pelletreau came from rural yet agriculturally rich eastern Long Island. He apprenticed with noted New York City silversmith Simeon Soumaine, one of the earliest and finest Huguenot artisans to immigrate to colonial America. Pelletreau’s experience in an urban community instilled nuanced insights into current fashions and techniques before returning to Southampton, where he spent the remainder of his career.

Pelletreau’s patronage encompassed an extensive circle on Long Island and reached across the Sound to Connecticut and westward to New York City. Unlike most silversmiths in rural areas who made primarily spoons and simple utilitarian objects, Pelletreau’s oeuvre includes a large quantity of hollowware and flatware, reflecting his urban training. Pelletreau’s elegant creations are found proudly displayed in leading museum collections.

The project is headed by Joshua Ruff, the Museum’s Chief Curator, who assembled a talented team to bring the exhibition and an accompanying catalogue to fruition, including noted scholars and authors Deborah Waters, Jeanine Fallino, and Jennifer Anderson as well as the Museum’s new Assistant Curator, Jonathan Olly. The principals are now engaging the many probable lending institutions as well as seeking additional venues for what is hoped to be a traveling show.

The exhibition and catalogue will honor Dean’s important legacy in decorative arts scholarship and provide a new generation of museum goers with a fresh look at an important early American craftsman.

The Trust is still seeking donations to build the Failey Fund. If you would like to make a contribution in Dean’s memory, please contact us at 610.627.4970 or thetrust@decorativeartstrust.org. All donors to the Trust’s Failey Fund will receive an invitation to a tour of the show as well as special events connected to future projects supported by the Fund.  

UPCOMING EVENTS

SAVE THE DATE
  • Special Program: Tour of the Newark Museum with retiring Chief Curator Ulysses Dietz
    November 3
  • New York Antiques Weekend
    January 19-20, 2018
  • Emerging Scholars Colloquium
    January 21, 2018
  • Symposium
    Upper Hudson River Valley: From the Mohawk to the Berkshires
    May 3-6, 2018
  • Symposium
    New Orleans & the Mississippi Delta
    November 1-4, 2018
  • Study Trip
    Prague & Vienna with an extension to Budapest
    With an extension to Budapest
    October 1–11 and 16–26, 2018; Extension October 12–15

Thanks to the generosity of more than 125 of our members, the Trust’s effort to create a Dean F. Failey Fund in honor of our late Governor was a resounding success. With the aim of directing the fund to support noteworthy research and exhibitions in the field of American decorative art, the Trust was honored to award the inaugural Failey Grant earlier this year to a project near and dear to Dean’s heart.

Throughout his career, from his days as a student at Winterthur through his retirement years after Christie’s, Dean pursued the work of Elias Pelletreau (1726-1810), a prominent Long Island silversmith in the pre- and post-Revolutionary eras. In September 2018, the Long Island Museum will open Elias Pelletreau, Long Island’s Paul Revere: Silversmith, Patriot, and Entrepreneur, which is a natural recipient for the first Failey Grant. Building upon Dean’s extensive research, as well as his sleuthing on the location of extant Pelletreau silver, the show will focus on the silversmith and his clientele and trade in Long Island and the surrounding region.

Like Revere, Pelletreau descended from French Huguenot ancestors and was an ardent patriot during the American Revolution. While Revere was reared in the bustling city of Boston, Pelletreau came from rural yet agriculturally rich eastern Long Island. He apprenticed with noted New York City silversmith Simeon Soumaine, one of the earliest and finest Huguenot artisans to immigrate to colonial America. Pelletreau’s experience in an urban community instilled nuanced insights into current fashions and techniques before returning to Southampton, where he spent the remainder of his career.

Pelletreau’s patronage encompassed an extensive circle on Long Island and reached across the Sound to Connecticut and westward to New York City. Unlike most silversmiths in rural areas who made primarily spoons and simple utilitarian objects, Pelletreau’s oeuvre includes a large quantity of hollowware and flatware, reflecting his urban training. Pelletreau’s elegant creations are found proudly displayed in leading museum collections.

The project is headed by Joshua Ruff, the Museum’s Chief Curator, who assembled a talented team to bring the exhibition and an accompanying catalogue to fruition, including noted scholars and authors Deborah Waters, Jeanine Fallino, and Jennifer Anderson as well as the Museum’s new Assistant Curator, Jonathan Olly. The principals are now engaging the many probable lending institutions as well as seeking additional venues for what is hoped to be a traveling show.

The exhibition and catalogue will honor Dean’s important legacy in decorative arts scholarship and provide a new generation of museum goers with a fresh look at an important early American craftsman.

The Trust is still seeking donations to build the Failey Fund. If you would like to make a contribution in Dean’s memory, please contact us at 610.627.4970 or thetrust@decorativeartstrust.org. All donors to the Trust’s Failey Fund will receive an invitation to a tour of the show as well as special events connected to future projects supported by the Fund.  

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