Floral Arrangements: Highlights from the Collection

Fanny Palmer, Landscape, Fruit and Flowers, 1862, two-color lithograph hand colored, published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St., New York

The Hudson River Museum is delighted to announce a new exhibition, Floral Arrangements: Highlights from the Collection, on view June 3 - September 17, 2017. Floral Arrangements illustrates the various ways we express our love of flowers with selections from the Museum’s 19th- and 20th-century collections. From botanical watercolors by Joanna Kellinger in Victorian Yonkers to a “Mimosa” rug by Henri Matisse, on view for the first time since 1983, floral specimens from the Museum’s vaults have been arranged to coincide with Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament.

Featuring more than 30 objects, the exhibition includes paintings, photographs, textiles, ceramics and more. The exhibition begins with a wall of botanical studies, where Kellinger’s English Bluebells and Spider Lilies hang next to a 1934 drawing, Banana Blossom, by Georgia O’Keeffe. Other sections include portraiture, the decoration of clothing and home furnishings, and photographic studies ranging from formal compositions to allegorical still-life arrangements.

Portrait paintings and photographs by John White Alexander, Rudolf Eickemeyer and Edward Steichen reveal the common theme of including flowers as decorative and symbolic elements. George Stengel, a founder of the Yonkers Art Association and the Hudson River Museum, is represented by a painting of women seated around a vase of flowers, but also by vivid floral carpet designs. Stengel was also the chief designer at Alexander Smith carpet factory. 

A series of densely packed and highly colorful photographs by pioneering photorealist Audrey Flack, on which she based her paintings, illustrate how contemporary artists have looked back to the past for floral inspiration and references ranging from growth and decay, to life and death.

Many objects have not been on display for decades, or are recent acquisitions on view for the first time. Matisse designed his 1951 limited edition rug for the Alexander Smith carpet factory in Yonkers to fabricate on its Axminster looms. He based the abstract floral motif on his paper cutouts of the same period. Also on display for the first time in over 30 years is an evening coat from the 1920s with a pattern of gold chrysanthemums. It is from the New York City fashion house Dunstan, which was owned and operated by dressmaker Alice M. Dunstan.

Newly acquired collections include a recently donated group of intricately beaded purses from the late 19th and early 20th century—all with floral embellishment and vases festooned with molded flowers by
Odell & Booth, a Tarrytown ceramics firm operating from the 1870s to 1890s. A special treat will be the Museum’s newest acquisition, a classic Currier & Ives print, Landscape: Fruit and Flowers by Fanny Palmer, one of the firm’s most important artists. Beyond the lush bouquet and flowers climbing a porch trellis, we glimpse more nature—the tree-covered Highlands and the bountiful Hudson River.

Also on view are the period rooms of Glenview, the Museum’s Gilded Age home on the National Register of Historic Places. There many more floral collections can be seen, from decorative arts to the stylized flowers of the woodwork, the friezes and the tiles. A popular flower of the period, chrysanthemums appear in the Japanesque stencils of the sitting room. The flower was a favorite of John Bond Trevor, the original owner of Glenview, who with his gardener John Wiffler cultivated the “Glenview Mum” in the estate's greenhouses.

The Hudson River Museum is open Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm. From July 7 - September 2, the Museum’s Fridays and Saturday hours are extended from 5 to 8pm, and admission is FREE for the galleries and the Friday and Saturday night Planetarium shows at 7 pm.

Museum Admission: Adults $6; Youth 3 - 18 $3; Seniors 62+ and Students with ID $4. Planetarium Admission: Adults $4; Youth 3 -18 $2; Seniors 62+ and Students with ID $3.

The Museum is accessible by Metro North, Yonkers or Glenview Stations, by Beeline Bus Route 1 (Warburton Avenue at Shonnard Terrace), by car, via the Saw Mill River Parkway. Make your visit a One-Day Getaway, and get a combined rail and admission discount ticket.  Click here for Metro-North Deals & Getaways information.

THE HUDSON RIVER MUSEUM ( is the largest cultural institution in Westchester County and a multidisciplinary complex that draws its identity from its site on the banks of the Hudson River, seeking to broaden the cultural horizons of all its visitors. The Museum collections focus on 19th-century through contemporary American Art; Glenview, an 1876 house on the National Register of Historic Places; Hudson Riverama, an environmental teaching gallery; a state-of-the-art, 120-seat planetarium, and a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater. It presents exhibitions, programs, teaching initiatives, research, collection, preservation, and conservation – a wide range of activities that interpret its collections, interests and communities.