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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Ripley, Harriet (embroidery); pole stand: Daniel Clay (attributed)
Title:pole screen
Date Made:1810
Materials:textile: silk, satin; wood: cherry, yellow poplar; glass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Greenfield
Measurements:overall: 61 x 14 x 16 1/2 in.; 154.94 x 35.56 x 41.91 cm
Accession Number:  HD 88.091
Credit Line:Museum Collections Fund

Pole screen or fire screen with a glazed and framed silk floral embroidery on a satin background, embroidered along the lower edge: "Harriet Ripley/1810." Harriett Ripley (1795-1876) was the daughter of the Greenfield merchant Jerome Ripley (1757-1838) and Sarah Franklin Ripley (ca. 1780-1839), both born in Hingham, Massachusetts, who married in 1784. In 1789, the Ripley family moved to Greenfield where Jerome became a successful and prominent member of the community. In 1817, Harriet Ripley married Sylvester Allen (1782-1848), who had moved to Greenfield from Rhode Island in 1812. It is not clear whether Harriet attended a female academy or received local schooling outside the home. Harriet's work may have been inspired by her older sister, Sarah, who attended Dorchester Academy in 1804 and undertook "the charge of instructing my younger sisters & Brothers through the summer" in 1810. Their brother, Geroge Ripley (1802-1880) was associated with Transcendentalism, and was a founder of the short-lived Utopian community, Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. A similar pole screen by Sarah Ripley is known as well as an example by their neighbor, Maria Holmes Leavitt (1798-1878) who attended Deerfield Academy in 1808 and 1809. Pole screens are rare in American furniture. Ostensibly, they protected one's face (that might be made up with paraffin-based cosmetics anong the well-to-do) from the heat of the fire. More to the point, they offered an ostentatious means of displaying fancy needlework. This stand, which is similar to the Leavitt stand, has an urn-shaped finial over a baluster-turned and reeded shaft and tripod base of cabriole legs terminating in snake feet, may be made by cabinetmaker Daniel Clay (1770-1848) of Greenfield. Historic Deerfield owns a tall clock (69.0265) labeled by Daniel Clay, which belonged to Jerome Ripley. HD also owns a tip-top candlestand (91.263) which descended in the Smead family of Greenfield, with a very similar turned shaft. Also see sampler (75.001) made by Harriet Ripley in 1804.

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