Who in the fiber art world captures love & romance at it’s best….
And yes, sometimes at it’s worst…..
If you've read our book, most likely you're familiar with these 1st two LOVE STORIES, so here's just a quick refresher...
Love Story # 1: James Hutchinson had his own tales of love & romance. First there was Clara Britton, his childhood sweetheart, they eloped in 1899.
James & Clara
The couple took a quick journey via sailboat from Shelter Island to Greenport, Long Island. Once there, they were secretly married by Rev McKnight. Now isn’t that romantic? Well, maybe not so much, because they eventually divorced.
This collection was quite different from the "collected" rugs (mentioned above). What made these Hutchinson's rugs so desirable by everyone from the Rockefellers to Movie Stars? There were more than 870 pictorial & humorous rugs & nothing else on the market like it! Not even close! THEY WERE WAY AHEAD OF THEIR TIME!Always Save the Women First! A great example of a designed & commissioned Hutchinson rug, and one that can be seen hanging upstairs in Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine. She has a number of very nice hooked rugs there, including the Hutchinson rug: He Drinks Whiskey, I Drink Tea, Now is That Fair to He or Me? Most Any Job, Tis Me That Do It, The Day Will Come, When He Will Rue It.
There is much more info about Hutchinson hooked rugs in our book:
Rug Hooking Traditions with James & Mercedes Hutchinson.
(Many of which focus on the virtues & foibles of love.)
The following 2 Hutchinson hooked rugs feature — Love at it’s best.
Love Story # 3: The couple featured in the Hutchinson rug below is obviously in love. The rug was originally sold at a 1947 Parke-Bernet auction in New York City. The catalogue described it as: Engagement Rug - Figure of an astonished brown-haired maiden seated before her ardent suitor, who is slipping a ring on her finger.
The inscription tells you that it’s a memorable event, and one that will not soon be forgotten—and not just for the obvious reason of an engagement. So, one can only wonder... What was that special cologne or perfume she was wearing?
It's a private moment for this couple, unlike today's splashy, public proposals, no stadium billboards or live postings on social media - shared with a billion of their closest friends. I think the Hutchinsons had it right, private proposals are much more romantic!
At the time our book was published, we didn’t have a photo of the rug, not even a black & white photo. Isn’t it simply charming?
While Hutchinson hooked rugs may “seem” simple, they are filled with movement, sentiment, and so many details! They make you think, they make you laugh, they make you ask questions......
They deserve a second & third look!
An interesting aspect of this rug is how the Hutchinsons captured 2 seasons so well, in both the inscription & the design. The design seamlessly blends winter clothing & ice skates with a background of summer flowers! Well Done... James & Mercedes!
When researching the Hutchinsons for the book, it was captivating, because their lives & families were so fascinating & quirky. But I have to say, this amazing lady, Betsey, proves that you can have your cake....
Betsey Marie Cushing Roosevelt Whitney
Love Story # 5: Betsey's parents were quite a pair. They were childhood friends, who married after a long courtship, and had 5 children.
While James served as an Aide at the White House, Betsey would act as White House Hostess. As Hostess, she started a lifelong friendship with Queen Elizabeth.
Roosevelt family Photo. Betsey is on the far left seated to the left of her father-in-law, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt is seated, wearing the large white collared dress. Behind her is her son, and Betsey's husband, James Roosevelt.
Love Story # 7: Not to Worry! In 1941, Betsey met John Hay Whitney, better know as Jock. He was born into one of the most prominent American families of the 20th century. Jock’s maternal grandfather was a great American statesman, John Hay, who counted among his successes the privilege of being Abraham Lincoln’s Private Secretary.
Betsey & Jock fell in love & married in 1942. He lovingly adopted both of Betsey's daughters, Sara & Kate, & raised them as his own.
President Eisenhower named Jock as Ambassador to the Court of St James in 1957 & they moved to London. They often hosted small dinners for close friends Queen Elizabeth & Prince Phillip.
The Whitney's inherited Greentree - a 500 acre estate in Manhasset, New York, but they also maintained residences and horse farms in:
New York City + Manhattan
Saratoga Springs, NY + Fishers Island, NY
Georgia + New Jersey + Lexington, KY
Surrey, UK + London, UK
The professional Decorator of many of the Whitney's homes was Sister Parish (Dorothy May Kinnicutt Parish).
Jock died in 1982. Betsey never remarried.
Betsey was a prominent philanthropist in medicine, education & art. She served on the boards at Whiney Museum of American Art, a Life Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; a Fellow of the Frick Collection, a long-term supporter of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the National Gallery of Art & many, many, many other organizations.
In 1990, Forbes magazine estimated her wealth at $700 million, which would be $ 1.2 billion today.
In 1990, Betsey made art history at Sotheby’s by selling one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s most famous paintings, the sun-dappled café scene “Bal du moulin de la Galette.” It brought $78.1 million, then a record auction price for Impressionist art & the 2nd highest price for any artwork sold at auction.
The 1998 New York Post article "Whitney Windfall $300 million in art to museums" said it all. Betsy bequeathed remarkable pieces to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, & Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
After her death, her remaining art collection was sold at Sotheby’s in 1999 for a then-record $128.3 million, the 2nd highest single owner auction in history!
A fine American floral hooked rug, late 19th century, a central floral vase filled with flowers and surrounded by a garland of rose blossoms and rose vines.
Betsey must have cherished Hutchinson rugs!
She owned not 1 but at least 4, 5, or more.
Most could be found at either the Saratoga Springs mansion or the Greentree mansion, both in New York state.
Said to have been part of the Greentree Estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Horses were a common theme throughout the mansion.
The Whitney family had been involved in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing since the 1800s. It’s said that their contributions to the sport have been immeasurable. Greentree Stables was inherited by Jock and his sister Joan in 1927 and valued at $200 million. (Joan Whitney Payson later became well known in the baseball world as the original owner of the New York Mets.) Betsey & Jock summered at Greentree Mansion.
Back From The Sea So Deep & Wide—is another Hutchinson rug that was owned by Betsey, unfortunately, we still don’t have a photo of this rug. In the original auction catalog, it is described as: Sailor and Sweetheart Rug—A straw-hatted sailor welcomed by a lady with yellow hair amid pink and white morning-glories. It sounds so romantic!
The Impetuous Lover—May also have been another one of Betsey's Hutchinson rugs - according to Susan & Mark Laracy, when they sold this rug at Sotheby’s auction in 2007, they state that it was part of Betsey's collection in the provenance. But as of this moment, I was unable to confirm/document that Betsey Whitney owned it. So, more digging to do on this one. However, the color photo is a recent discovery, due to the 2007 Laracy auction, which came after the printing of the book. A wonderful find! And definitely fitting in our romantic theme this month!Betsey may have owned more Hutchinson rugs.... We'll keep on researching!
If you would like to read more about Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney, there is a book about her & her equally famous sisters: The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsey Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh - The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters. And much has been written about both of her famous husbands and their families.
And just so you don't get the wrong impression...
REGULAR PEOPLE do own Hutchinson hooked rugs.
But the stories of the RICH & FAMOUS are just so much fun to tell!
Here's hoping that February brings you LOVE & ROMANCE!
If you have hooked rug questions or discoveries, be sure to contact Kathy!
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