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Worldly Goods: The Arts of Early Pennsylvania, 1680–1758

October 10, 1999–January 2, 2000

While meeting the requests of an increasingly sophisticated, demanding, and prosperous clientele, the cabinetmakers, printers, metalworkers, painters, and other artisans of the Delaware Valley reinterpreted traditional forms and patterns imported from Europe. In doing so, they transformed the contemporary European Baroque aesthetic into a delicate style that emphasized balance, proportion, form, and restrained ornamentation, and which ultimately coalesced as a distinctive American regional vision. Worldly Goods will highlight more than 350 fine examples of furniture, textiles, silver, metalwork, ceramics, prints, maps, books and paintings from this seminal place and time, lent by private collections and museums.

A material chronology of early Pennsylvania’s artistic development, Worldly Goods will feature sections delineating particular forms, patrons, craftsmen, and stylistic trends that gained prominence during the 80 years it surveys. While exploring the ongoing influence of the British Isles on the arts of the New World, the exhibition will also examine the early stylistic influences of highly trained and influential artisans and craftsmen with roots in Holland, France, Portugal, Germany, and Sweden. Worldly Goods will illuminate the experiences of diverse cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious groups–Native Americans, Jews, Catholics, the French, Huguenots, African Americans, and slave and indentured peoples–and highlight their contributions to the region’s cultural landscape.

Main Building


This exhibition is made possible by J.P. Morgan.

Additional support has been provided by The William Penn Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd. Support for the catalogue was provided by The Chipstone Foundation and by Lulu C. and Anthony W. Wang.


Jack L. Lindsey, Curator of American Decorative Arts

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