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Summer 2019 exhibition opens at The Redwood Library & Athenæum
Spectacular Silver Sailing's Goelet Cups installation view at Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport.

NEWPORT, RI.- The Redwood Library & AthenŠum announces the opening of its summer exhibition “Spectacular Silver: Yachting’s Goelet Cups”, a landmark presentation focused on the elaborate silver sailing trophies commissioned by New York real estate magnate Ogden Goelet for New York Yacht Club races held off of Newport in the last decades of the nineteenth century (1882-1897). The exhibition will be on view at the Redwood, the sole venue, until September 29, 2019.

Organized by the New York Yacht Club in collaboration with the Redwood Library & AthenŠum, the exhibition features a dozen Goelet trophies (over a third of those awarded), and a range of exceptional historic material—from yacht models and marine paintings to trophy designs—that locates the Goelet ‘cups’ within the yachting culture of Gilded Age Newport.

Products of some of the leading silversmiths of the era, such as Tiffany & Co. and Whiting Manufacturing Co., the Goelet trophies correspond to the rapid expansion of wealth in America and the adaptation of the sumptuous dÚcor of the Gilded Age to the sporting culture of yachtsmen such as Goelet himself.

“The Goelet Cups are masterpieces of American silver design and craftsmanship; they are indicators of the significance of the races they were awarded for,” explains Alice Dickinson, Curator of Collections at the New York Yacht Club and the exhibition’s lead curator.

The exhibition is the first to unite a number of these significant, and unique trophies, and draws largely from the New York Yacht Club’s incomparable collections, supplemented by important loans from acclaimed museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Tiffany & Co., Salve Regina University, as well as from many private collections. The exhibition opens with the first Goelet schooner prize, a tray and pitcher by Whiting Manufacturing Co. notable for its chased silver decoration and its details of enamel and glass. An adjacent grouping brings Tiffany & Co. design drawings in dialog with the finished Schooner Prize for 1884, an elaborate tureen-like vessel capped by a solid silver Neptune figure, a work specifically chosen to represent Tiffany & Co. at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition. Other cups on view include all three awarded to Charles J. Paine’s yacht, and 1887 America’s Cup defender, Volunteer. The last schooner cup awarded, on loan from the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, is a piece designed by the architect Stanford White for Tiffany & Co.

A central theme of the exhibition is the spectacle of the races, which featured the most advanced racing boats of the age. The events were among the first American sporting contests to attract national attention and as such were widely covered in the press, as well as memorialized in marine paintings. Recreating this context, the show includes an exceptional selection of paintings, press clippings and photography, in addition to a rich selection of half models of the winning boats from the New York Yacht Club collection.

Redwood Executive Director, Benedict Leca, adds: “These marvelous trophies remind us how for all times Newport set the pace for sporting elegance and artistic refinement.”

Spectacular Silver: Yachting’s Goelet Cups is organized by the New York Yacht Club in collaboration with the Redwood Library & AthenŠum and will bring the Goelet Cup races to life in the original context of Newport in celebration of the NYYC’s 175th anniversary in 2019.

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