The founding collector of the furniture, decorative arts, and fine art at Woodward was the educated, Philadelphia-born daughter of a successful merchant family, Naomi Wood (1871-1926). Her father, Caleb Wood, and her grandfather, David Wood, owned and operated a store for “Ladies and Children’s Furnishing Goods” on the corner of Chestnut and Juniper Streets. Around 1920, Wood inherited the property, which became the basis of her estate.
Wood started collecting antiques at a young age. Around 1910, she formulated a plan with her friend Daniel Huntoon to ensure that their collections could be enjoyed by generations of the public in a well-maintained historic house. She intended to acquire a historic house, and she and Huntoon would furnish it with an extraordinary array of art, furniture, and other household objects.
After her death, Daniel Huntoon, acting as executor of her will,
signed an agreement with the Fairmount Park Commission allowing Woodford Mansion to be used to house Wood’s and Huntoon’s collections. In her will, Wood stipulated that her estate be devoted
to maintaining the collection, “as an illustration of household gear during the Colonial years” and to serve as a trust in perpetuity “for the purpose of furnishing, equipping and maintaining the house.” Daniel Huntoon and the Girard Trust Company were appointed as The Naomi Wood Trust’s first co-trustees.
Naomi Wood, ca. 1890
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Female Artists in the Naomi Wood Collection
The founding collector of the furniture, decorative arts, and fine art at Woodward was the educated, Philadelphia-born daughter of a successful merchant family, Naomi Wood (1871-1926). During the course of her life, she pursued her passion for art and antiques while traveling the world. Woodford Mansion would open open as a museum in 1930, just four years after her death. Read below to learn more about objects in our collection that were made by female artists.
Portrait of James Searles Woodward, James & Sarah Miriam Peale, c. 1818-1822.
Sarah Miriam Peale (1800-1885) is regarded as the first woman in America to work as a professional painter. Her dad, James, and uncle Charles provided valuable training in painting techniques; though unsigned, this portrait is believed to be an example of a painting that Sarah and James completed together as part of her training. She established her studio and portrait business in the 1820s, and was honored with the position of Academician by Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Silver tea caddy, Elizabeth Godfrey, 1750
The small size of this object (about 5 inches tall, silver weight, 7 oz troy) reflects the fact that tea was expensive and rare at this time. The word caddy is derived from the Malaysian word Kati, which was a unit of measurement about the same weight as a pound. The bombe style of the box and the feet recall Louis XI French Rococo furniture. The maker of this object, Elizabeth Godfrey, was active between 1720 and 1766. She was born into a Huguenot family and her maiden name was Pantin. Her father, Simon Pantin, was a silversmith and goldsmith and it is believed that he taught her the trade.
English Loving Cup, Hester Bateman, 1788
Loving cups are drinking vessels characterized by two handles on either side for use ceremonially at weddings or meetings to signify unity.
Hester Bateman was born in 1709 in London. Around 1730, Hester married John Bateman, who worked in gold and silver. Thirty years later, after John passed away, Hester continued the family business, assisted by two of her sons, John and Peter, and their father’s apprentice, John Linney. She registered her mark at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London the same year. Hester’s workshop made a wide variety of products, using technology to help speed up production and drive down costs so that her workshop's items were available to wider range of clients. Hester and her workshop produced thousands of pieces of silverware up until she retired in 1790 at the age of 81.
Christening pillow, unknown maker, 1795
These pillows were used as decorative gifts amongst female friends and family members on the occasion of welcoming a new baby. The pillows also served a dual purpose as pincushions; the pins, handmade or bought and inserted into the pillows often in a floral or lettering design, were part of the gift, since pins were used for the child's clothing and diapering. The christening pillow in Woodford's collection has an arrangement of pins on both sides; on one side, the maker included the date it was made: 1795. On the other, the pins are arranged to spell out "Welcome Little Stranger There," an intriguing phrase that was a popular salutation to newborns in late eighteenth century America, and increasingly utilized by nineteenth century writers for its sentimental resonance.