All posts by Curt DiCamillo

About Curt DiCamillo

Curt DiCamillo, internationally recognized authority on English country houses and the decorative arts, joined NEHGS in February 2016 as our first Curator of Special Collections. A longtime member of NEHGS, Curt has led highly successful heritage tours for us to England and Scotland, lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, and taught classes on British culture and art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Curt was previously Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, where he successfully raised more than $7 million and initiated many innovative programs. As Curator of Special Collections at NEHGS, Curt will provide strategic direction and expert guidance for organizing and exhibiting our extensive collection of family history-related artifacts and fine arts.

Sitting pretty

Sitting in an estate of 10,000 acres, Castle Howard is generally considered the finest private residence in Yorkshire and the first great British house of the eighteenth century. Built to the designs of Sir John Vanbrugh, one of England’s greatest architects, for Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle, the house cost the immense sum of £78,000 (approximately £154 million in inflation-adjusted values) and is noted for its great dome, the first on a private house in Britain. Continue reading Sitting pretty

Ninigret II

Courtesy of RISD Museum. RISDM 48-246

A relatively recent treasure added to the NEHGS collections is a late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century oil painting of a Native American sachem. NEHGS purchased this painting in early 2016 from an art dealer. The portrait is traditionally believed to depict Ninigret II (ca. 1610–1677), a sachem of the eastern Niantics, a Narragansett tribe that held extensive lands in what is today Rhode Island.

Ninigret appears to have been a skillful player on the stage of seventeenth-century New England politics. He allied the Niantics with the English against the Pequots in 1637, and kept his tribe out of King Philip’s War in the 1670s. Continue reading Ninigret II

A mappa mundi

A_Mappi Mundi _Hereford_Cathedral_at_NEHGS
The Society’s copy of the Mappa Mundi. Photo by Dani Torres

The Society has, hanging on its walls, a reproduction of the famous thirteenth-century Hereford Mappa Mundi, the original of which is in the collection of Hereford Cathedral in the west of England. A mappa mundi – from Medieval Latin mappa (cloth or chart) and mundi (of the world) – is any medieval European map of the world.  Approximately 1,100 of these maps are known to exist today, of which the Hereford Cathedral version is the largest. In fact, it’s the largest medieval map in the world. Continue reading A mappa mundi

The Parkman House

Samuel Parkman house, Bowdoin Square, Boston, by Philip Harry, 1847. R. Stanton Avery Special Collections

Among the many treasures in the Society’s collection is an extraordinarily well-preserved circa 1847 oil painting by Philip Harry of a grand Boston home that no longer exists: the late eighteenth-century Samuel Parkman House on Bowdoin Square in the West End.

Founded in 1788, Bowdoin Square had, by the early nineteenth century, become one of the most prestigious residential areas of the city and home to many of Boston’s leading families, including the Parkmans. (Samuel Parkman, who built the house around 1789, was a successful merchant who made a fortune in real estate as Boston grew into one of the most important cities in the new republic.) Continue reading The Parkman House

The House Beautiful

Figure 1. The Treat Rotunda at NEHGS. Figures 1, 2, 4, and 5 are courtesy of the author

The New England Historic Genealogical Society is rediscovering many treasures within its Atkinson-Lancaster Collection, an eclectic assemblage of art that came to the Society in 1933 from the Atkinson family of Newburyport, Massachusetts. The Atkinsons made their fortune in the nineteenth-century India trade. We’ve just rehung the Treat Rotunda (Figure 1) with pieces from the collection, including two lovely celadon-and-cream-colored nineteenth-century Chinese garden seats (Figure 2, below). Continue reading The House Beautiful