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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Meahl

Field Trip: The Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Motherhood continues to take priority over my research and writing. It frustrates me, but I feel my young adult children do need me during these unsettling times.

Luckily, my youngest conveniently decided to go to a college in Connecticut and it has opened up opportunities to visit the very libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies that I need to frequent in order to write my book. This past Friday, I stopped by the wonderful Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, CT.

Specifically I was looking for some furniture and art they have pertaining to the Huntington family and the merchant class of New London--the very people who made their riches off of slavery via Atlantic trade routes. They used their wealth to finance the Patriot cause during the American Revolution. The visit did not disappoint.

First, I requested to see Faith Trumbull Huntington's very first piece of needlework which I reported on in a lengthy article (about her) in Connecticut History Review (April 2019). The museum curator, Tanya Pohrt, showed it to me. Entitled, "The Hanging of Absalom," it was incredible to see it up close:

Faith Trumbull Huntington (1742/43-1775), "The Hanging of Absalom." (c. 1753)
Faith Trumbull Huntington (1742/43-1775), "The Hanging of Absalom." (c. 1753). Created in Boston, at the age of 10, under the teaching of Mrs. Elizabeth Murray. Silks and metallic silks done on black silk. Faces are painted.

Then it was on to the colonial New London art and furniture displays.

Exceptional Owl's Eye Chippendale chair with original Spanish leather covering. Made for Jabez Huntington (1719-1786) by his cousin, Norwich furniture maker Felix Huntington (1749-1822).
Exceptional Owl's Eye Chippendale chair with original "Spanish" leather covering--really from the Netherlands. Made for Jabez Huntington or one of his sons (1719-1786) by his cousin, Norwich furniture maker, Felix Huntington (1749-1822).
Tall case clock by "E. Tracy Norwich" reportedly for Jedediah Huntington.
Tall case clock by "E. Tracy Norwich" reportedly made in 1795 for Jedediah Huntington.

Winthrop Chandler "Eunice Huntington Devotion and Her Daughter Eunice" (c. 1772)
Winthrop Chandler: Eunice Huntington Devotion and Her Daughter Eunice (c. 1772).

Winthrop Chandler: Judge Ebenezer Devotion (c. 1772)
Winthrop Chandler: Judge Ebenezer Devotion (c. 1772).

The medium-sized Lyman Allyn Art Museum devotes itself to the presentation of art and artifacts from all over the world My focus is on New London county history but it has over 17,000 objects in its collection and constantly revolving exhibits. For example, the famous Tiffany family has its origins in New London county and the Lyman has an impressive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany art and objects.

Tiffany enameled jewelry and personal items

More Tiffany enamelware--ladies' dresser items.

Tiffany Studios stained glass window made for a local church: On permanent loan to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. The colors and swirls are exceptional.

The Lyman has a diverse line-up of upcoming special exhibitions including one for Fall 2021, based around a very impressive collection of painted miniatures by Mary B. Way and her sister, Betsy Way Champlain. They were professional female artists--something rare in the late 18th century. I will be back in the fall for that one!

Interestingly, Pohrt brought up the possibility that a recent pair of miniatures attributed to Mary B. Way and reportedly of Jedediah and Ann "Nancy" Moore Huntington might be that of another Huntington couple of that era, possibly Simeon Huntington and his second wife Patience Keeney who also lived in New London. I did report on these beautiful Way miniature paintings in a previous post: "Major General Jedediah Huntington Re-Visited," October 2020. So, further investigation would be appropriate--those miniatures sold for $22,500 in January 2020 through Sotheby's. After comparing the Way image with the other two known images of Jedediah, I am not convinced it is him (or Nancy)--which is disappointing.


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