One of the most anticipated art and antiques fairs of the year is The Winter Show, held from January 18-27, 2019, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. In addition to over 70 booths showcasing art, antiques and design, this year's loan exhibition celebrates the history of Nantucket with art and artifacts collected by the Nantucket Historical Association. The exhibition, titled Collecting Nantucket, Connecting the World, will showcase 125 years of paintings, crafts and folk art from the island, once a major whaling capital of the world and today a summer resort beloved for its preserved architecture, charming small town and spectacular natural beauty.

View of Nantucket. Photo: The Northborough Guide View of Nantucket. Photo: The Northborough Guide

The loan exhibition will include extraordinary items such as a portrait from Gilbert Stuart, scrimshaw carvings, famous Nantucket Lightship baskets and relics from the whaleship Essex, the story of which inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. NHA’s Gosnell Executive Director James Russell says, “Nantucket holds a special place in the minds of many. There is a yearning to reach this spit of land 30 miles out to sea that was a strategic crossroads in the 18th and 19th centuries. Our collection has been carefully shaped for 125 years, and the items chosen for the loan exhibition have much to teach our generation as we admire the global accomplishments, entrepreneurial genius, and artistic skill of Nantucket islanders from the colonial period and the early republic through the present.” Here are some of the highlights of the exhibition:

NHA_Gilbert Stuart_Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin NHA_Gilbert Stuart_Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) is one of the best known portraitists in history, particularly renowned for his famous painting of George Washington. In 1810, he painted Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, an American loyalist who served in the British Royal Navy in the American War of Independence and in the Napoleonic Wars. The Admiral was a descendant of the wealthy Coffin family, whose patriarch Tristram Coffin settled Nantucket in 1659. Isaac Coffin himself founded a school in Nantucket that was free for all students who were related to the Coffin family, of which many on Nantucket qualified.

NHA_Davis Hall_Nest of Eight Nantucket Baskets NHA_Davis Hall_Nest of Eight Nantucket Baskets

The history of the Nantucket baskets began in the 1800s where they were woven aboard whaling vessels out of wood and rattan. The eponymous Lightship baskets were woven by the crew of the Lightship Station off the coast of Nantucket for their spouses or families. The crew was no longer allowed to weave the baskets beginning in 1900, so in 1940, Jose Reyes began making the baskets on the island. Since then, they have become extremely popular as purses and sell for thousands of dollars. This set of eight baskets were woven in 1895 by Davis Hall, one of the crewmen on the Lightship Station.

NHA_Benjamin Lawrence_Piece of Twine-1 NHA_Benjamin Lawrence_Piece of Twine-1

This piece of twine is the only surviving relic from the whaleship Essex, which was attacked and destroyed by a sperm whale in 1820 in the Pacific Ocean, over a thousand miles off the coast of South America. The 20 crew members struggled to stay alive on smaller whale boats and resorted to cannibalism by sacrificing their crew members. Only eight of the 20 survived the ordeal and the tragedy inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. This twine was kept as a memento by Benjamin Lawrence, one of the surviving crew members, who twisted it during his long months at sea.

NHA_Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin_The Window Toward the Sea (Phebe Folger Pitman) NHA_Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin_The Window Toward the Sea (Phebe Folger Pitman)

Elizabeth Coffin was an accomplished artist who was descended from the prominent Coffin family of Nantucket. She was the first woman to attend the Hague Academy of Fine Arts and the first person to receive a Master in Fine Arts degree from Vassar College. She moved to Nantucket permanently at the age of 50 in 1900 and began painting scenes of the island's landscape and people in the Realist style. She also exhibited her work at Chicago's World Fair in 1893. In this painting she depicted Phebe Folger Pitman, a longtime resident of Nantucket in her kitchen with a subdued color palette, detailed attention to her contemplative features and the interior of her modest home, showcasing the small town life on Nantucket that drew many tourists in the 20th century.

NHA_Edward Burdett_Engraved Whale’s Tooth NHA_Edward Burdett_Engraved Whale’s Tooth

Scrimshaw was the carving and engraving of whale bones and teeth, which began in the mid-1700s on whaling ships. Edward Burdett, the carver of this piece, was a crew member on whaling ships throughout his life until he died in a harpooning accident while aboard a vessel. He is the first known American scrimshaw engraver and carved this detailed depiction of a whaling ship into a sperm whale tooth in 1825 while on a voyage.

NHA_Captain Absalom F. Boston-1 NHA_Captain Absalom F. Boston-1

Captain Absalom Boston was a third-generation Nantucketer and a whaling captain who was a pioneer of racial equality on the island in the 19th century. He was the first African-American whaling captain to commandeer a whaleship, the Industry, in 1822, which went to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. Upon his return, he fought successfully for the desegregation of Nantucket schools after his daughter was banned from attending the island's public school in 1845.

NHA_Italian Settee with Canvaswork Upholstery NHA_Italian Settee with Canvaswork Upholstery

This extraordinary Italian settee was decorated with canvas work panels embroidered by the Monaghan sisters and their mother who moved to the island in 1929 because of the artist colony there. The exquisite needlework shows scenes of their family's favorite places on the island, such as Pocomo Head and Greater Light, their summer home and studio off Main Street.

NHA_Engraved Panbone NHA_Engraved Panbone

This engraved panbone is considered one of the finest pieces of scrimshaw of the 19th century. The highly detailed whaling scene shows three major whaleships and smaller whaleboats as whales are harpooned, tied and brought onto boats. On the far left, an angry whale smashes a boat and men and remnants of the vessel go flying.

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