NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Nantucket-carved Eskimo Curlew and Golden Plover decoys and the painting Boats on Killen’s Wharf by Anne Ramsdell Congdon (1948), thanks to a generous gift from the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association.
The first decoy represents an Eskimo Curlew, a critically endangered bird that hasn’t been seen for nearly 60 years due to overhunting and habitat loss. This decoy was carved by Franklin Folger or his son, Franklin Jr., who produced many shorebird decoys used by local hunters. The second decoy is a Golden Plover; it is notable for its exquisite craftsmanship and its depiction of the bird in spring plumage.
“These decoys are noteworthy additions to the collection not only because they are beautifully made folk art objects made and used on Nantucket. They also expand the NHA’s ability to tell the history of recreational shorebird hunting and its broader impact on the environment,” says Amelia Holmes, Director of Collections and Research Services.
The NHA is also excited to build its collection of works by Anne Ramsdell Congdon. “This painting of Straight Wharf adds materially to the quality of the NHA’s art holdings,” says Michael R. Harrison, Obed Macy Research Chair, “and I am enthusiastic about adding it to the collection. As art historian Anne Knutson, guest curator of last year’s Anne Ramsdell Congdon exhibit at the Whaling Museum, notes, it is a fine example of her late work, not otherwise represented in the collection. It is also a strong sample of the artist’s eye capturing the working waterfront, for we see in the view a row of fish houses, John Killen’s coal shed, docked draggers, and the picturesque and old-fashioned dory and skiff in the foreground. It is a painting the NHA can display equally for its documentary and artistic merits,”
Boats on Killen’s Wharf was acquired in memory of the late Cindy Lydon from her collection, and has been presented to the NHA in appreciation of the museum staff’s efforts in organizing the exhibition Anne Ramsdell Congdon’s Nantucket Renaissance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For over 35 years, support from the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association has enabled the NHA to acquire numerous artifacts, works of art, and documents and ensure that such objects stay on or return to Nantucket to be enjoyed by the people of the island.