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Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits

Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits


In honor of the 375th Anniversary of the founding of Appleton Farms, The Trustees of Reservations are pleased to showcase a special exhibition of family portraits from our collection.

    The exhibition, Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits, was co-curated by Susan Hill Dolan, Cultural Resources Specialist for the Northeast Region, and Rebecca Gardner Campbell.  

     “Our 375th Anniversary exhibition celebrates the men and women of the farm not only with their portraits, but also by sharing the human stories behind each of the sitters,” says Susan Hill Dolan. “In addition, photographs and decorative arts objects in our collection have been integrated into the show to help bring these family members ‘to life.’ ”  These objects range from the 1738 christening spoon of Samuel Appleton, to the 1913 needlework sampler by a young Ruth Appleton, to the Red Cross uniform worn by Joan E. Appleton in World War II.

    The important collection of family portraits also represents the work of some of America’s leading artists of the 19th and early 20th century. Among the 17 paintings and drawings in the show, you’ll find works by Ellen Emmet Rand, Lydia Field Emmet, and Eastman Johnson, one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York  known as “the American Rembrandt” of his time. A handsome portrait of General James Appleton, probably dating to the 1820s, has a label attributing it to Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole, which is in the process of being further researched.

    The Trustees extensive collection of objects and archives from all of our properties are stored at our Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts. This climate-controlled facility with state-of-the-art storage allows us to rotate the collections – be it fine furniture, ceramics, or paintings – and also provide safe storage and research facilities for our archival materials.  

    Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operated farm in America and among the most influential in America’s agricultural history. At the heart of the farm is the Old House, where generations of Appletons – from a brigadier general who served in the War of 1812 to a 19th century entrepreneur to a 20th century Wall Street lawyer – lived and loved life at Appleton Farms. The Old House now serves as the Visitor Center for the farm, as well as office and program space. The portrait exhibition will be on view in the Old House during its fall and winter hours, Saturday and Sunday, 11AM–3PM.

    We hope you’ll come see us at the farm to celebrate Appleton Farms’ rich history and family legacy. Then, remember to visit to our dairy store before you leave to stock up on farm fresh goodies!

    Published November 2013

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    Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits
    On exhibit in the Old House
    Appleton Farms
    Saturdays & Sundays | 11AM–3PM

    Here's a peek at the exhibit...