Although I was unable to attend High Point this market, one of my regular stops, that I was sorry to miss, is Currey & Company, who was debuting, among other introductions, new additions to their Winterthur Collection. While Currey now carries a wide range of furnishings, you may not know that they began, in 1988, as a company offering classic garden furniture from the Winterthur Museum and the Smithsonian. Winterthur was the birthplace of Henry Francis du Pont, one of the many heirs to the family fortune, who inherited the estate. It was he who was responsible for assembling Winterthur’s American furniture collection, the largest and widely acknowledged to be the finest in the country. His collection became so sizable that in 1929 he commissioned an enormous five story wing to accommodate his many purchases. He also developed the extensive 60 acre naturalistic gardens and established the building as a museum in 1951. Like many passionate collectors, he had eclectic taste, ranging from simple pine pieces to elaborate examples of gilded empire furniture. Innovative and discriminating, “Harry” du Pont was an avid gardener, art collector as well as consummate party planner (got to love a man who obsesses over tabletop), hosting guests from Brooke Astor and Doris Duke to Jackie Kennedy and Prince Rainier. I commend Currey for continuing to collaborate with Winterthur, maintaining the legacy of an American decorative arts institution in a contemporary way. I thought I’d include three of my favorites from the new additions.
Supporting Henry’s penchant for painted pieces, the Centerville Chest was originally made in 1678 for John and Margaret Staniford of Ipswich, Massachusetts. One of the earliest dated chest of drawers from New England, the original version, below, had black painted ornamentation with polychrome painted decoration added sometime after 1750. Currey’s updated version, while retaining the spirit of the original with its split spindles, proportion and draw configuration, is a wonderful interpretation in a worn Dutch Cream finish perfectly compatible with a variety of today’s interiors.
Currey is of course known for their lighting with hand forged iron products a speciality. One of the fixtures reproduced for the collection is based on a charming colonial-style light hanging in the Gray Room at Winterthur that perfectly complemented the 18th century mid-Atlantic furniture in the room seen below, documented in stereo view by Robert Brost and then hand-colored by Annette Karge (photo courtesy of Winterthur).
Currey’s Blackwell Chandelier, below, with its hand-applied Molé Black finish, features a wooden core holding the six candle arms, each with crimped candle cup detail. While we rarely have to deal with the original function of drip pans, women of colonial times felt lucky to return home from a formal social function without wax on their dresses from overflowing chandeliers. This fixture, with its amplified width and simplified lines, has a rustic chic that would enhance a traditional, modern or transitional decor.
Henry du Pont’s ardor for acquisitions was not confined to smaller antiques and collectibles. From Montmorenci, an 1822 plantation house in Warren Country, North Carolina, he purchased a grand circular staircase which he then transported to and installed in Winterthur. This French inspired era of neoclassical style is showcased in Winterthur’s Empire Parlor where gilding, banding and more decorative inlay characterize the pieces.
A sconce in this room, above, with French-style ormolu ring is based on an early Argand lamp, developed in France in the late eighteenth century, noted for its glass cylinder and much improved brightness. Inspired by this sconce and named for the plantation house, Currey created the Montmorenci Chandelier, below, an elegant Empire style fixture with a twist. With quirky corkscrew cables and an understated Spanish Gilt finish, this is an unusual piece full of statement style.
I’m glad Currey now has a NYC showroom at the NYDC where I hope to catch up with the rest of the new collection soon. And for those of you not near one of their showrooms, you can visit here to explore the rest of the Winterthur Collection at Currey & Co.
11 thoughts on “Winterthur Collection at Currey & Company”
Fabulous! Thank you so much Stacey! Everyone should visit Winterthur if they can! It is a GREAT American treasure and our Downton Abbey!
Love your choices, Stacey! And love the great products from Currey & Company for Winterthur.
What a beautiful collection based on the fabulous history of Winterthur. So great to know the story behind the pieces. Thanks for sharing!
Stacey and adventure through and through!
The Arts by Karena
Hi Stacey, Love this post. My maiden name is Staniford and the chest you showed from Winterthur once belonged to my father’s ancestors. Whenever we visit Winterthur we pay special hommage to it. I also have a similar “sunflower and tulip” chest in my dining room in NYC that belonged to my maternal great grandmother. It was made in 1690 and there is one just like it in the MET. We keep our table linens in it and use it every single day. Would love to whitewash but don’t dare!
Oh, and the costumes (if you could even call them such) from “Downton Abbey” on display at “Winterthur” now are just…,incredible!! What an escape from (most reality) to visit – it is so fun…my girlfriend is going back AGAIN!! franki
I looked for you all over High Point! You were sorely missed!
After just reading your post I had to run and get my November House Beautiful, by the by congratulations on your beautiful feature, and see if the original Centerville Chest was the same one I remembered in my minds eye that you had in your home. Pg 96, no it wasn’t, yours was from Pier One but it has the similar feel in coloring. Briefly I was able to look at your feature last night, and now when it’s quiet, I will be able to really read and savor! Congratulations again! All the best, Rié
Currey & Company is also the most gracious showroom I’ve ever been to. Bethanne Mathari and Mr. and Mrs. Currey have a wonderful vision! To sit in their showroom is a treat – not to mention all the wonderful live music and delicious Southern comfort food during the Highpoint Market.
True Southern hospitality and classic designs.
Looking forward to seeing you all again at 200 Lexington!
Stacey I must have been replying to a different post above. These chests from Currey and Company are gorgeous as well as the history behind the collection.
The Arts by Karena
How gorgeous is that Centerville chest! Love!!! the Winterthur Collection looks amazing!