The Schuyler Sisters and Their Circle

Portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church with her child and servant by John Trumbull, 1784, oil on canvas, private collection

JULY 20—DECEMBER 29, 2019

Sparked by the phenomenal success of Hamilton: An American Musical, the Albany Institute of History & Art has organized the exhibition The Schuyler Sisters and Their Circle (July 20 – December 29, 2019). There is no better place than the Albany Institute to develop and mount this exhibition. After all, the Institute was founded in 1791, when their dear friend and house guest, George Washington was President. The Albany Institute is also partnering with Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, which is presenting a Women of Schuyler Mansion tour.

Interest in the Schuyler family has increased in recent years because of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show. The Schuylers were a prominent Dutch family in New York in the 18th and 19th centuries, who played a central role in the formation of the United States. Renowned Revolutionary War general Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) and his wife Catharine Van Rensselaer (1734-1803) raised eight children in their Albany home. Hamilton: An American Musical prominently features the three eldest Schuyler daughters: Angelica Schuyler Church, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and Margaret (Peggy) Schuyler Van Rensselaer.

Catharine Schuyler was the great-great-granddaughter of Killian Van Rensselaer, the original founder of the Dutch colony of Rensselaerswyck. Catharine’s marriage to Philip Schuyler linked two of New York’s great landholding families. Philip Schuyler was known to care about the education of his daughters and paid for lessons in French, geography, history, writing, arithmetic, music, and dancing. Catharine Schuyler raised their daughters with an awareness of their colonial Dutch New York heritage and their connections to members of the prominent Ten Broeck, Livingston, Bayard, Van Rensselaer, and Van Cortlandt families. 

The exhibition discusses the wide-ranging interests of Catharine and her three eldest daughters Angelica, Elizabeth, and Margaret (Peggy)— sisters who witnessed history unfold in Albany, New York, Philadelphia, Paris, and London. As the wife of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza had a front row seat to events that shaped this country in the years immediately following the Revolution. For many years, Angelica lived abroad where she entertained royalty, diplomats, and artists in Paris and London. She maintained life-long friendships with the prominent figures she met, like Thomas Jefferson, and patronized artist John Trumbull. Peggy married Stephen Van Rensselaer III who ranks 10th on Business Insider’s list of wealthiest Americans of all time.

The Schuyler Sisters and Their Circle also explores the men the Schuyler sisters married, hosted, and befriended. Military, political, and intellectual luminaries of the day including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and the Marquis de Lafayette visited the Schuyler home in Albany.

The exhibition uses clothing, decorative arts, portraits, and manuscripts from the Revolutionary Period to the Federal Period to tell the stories of the Schuyler women. Twenty-four public and private institutions and individuals have lent their treasures for display. A rarely exhibited John Trumbull portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church with her child and servant is on loan to the exhibition from a private collection, and there are additional significant loans from Columbia University (including Eliza Hamilton's wedding ring from the Rare Book and Manuscripts Library), Fort Ticonderoga, Seth Kaller, Inc., New-York Historical Society, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the City of New York among many others. The Albany Institute is thrilled to bring these objects associated with the Schuyler sisters together in their hometown and showcase them in a special exhibition sure to thrill visitors- from history buffs to Hamilfans!

Exhibition Support

Leading support is provided by Lois and I. David Swawite, Omni Development Company, Inc., and the Cornelia Cogswell Rossi Foundation.

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Major support is provided by the Arnold & Jessie B. Cogswell Fund, Cooper Erving & Savage LLP, Dahl Taylor, Discover Albany, Times Union, Daughters of the American Revolution, Fan Association of North America, Deborah Groesbeck Bennett & John Bennett, Lawrence & Louise Marwill, and Douglas L. Cohn, D.V.M.

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This project is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

 

 

Season exhibition support is provided by Phoebe Powell Bender, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Hearst III, Charles M. Liddle III, and Lois and David Swawite.

Programmatic and exhibition support is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Exhibition Events & Programs

ONGOING

The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | gallery talks | various dates | included with admission

JULY

Exciting Eyes | art workshop | Friday, July 19, 2019 | 2—4PM | ages 13+ | $20 members, $25 non-members

Summer Exhibition Reception | special event | Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | 5—7PM | Free for AIHA and Friends of Schuyler Mansion Members, $10 non-members

A Daughter of Albany in Paris and London: Angelica Schuyler Church's Age of Revolutions | lecture | Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 2PM | included with admission | space is limited | Dr. Tom Cutterham, University of Birmingham, UK

AUGUST

My Dearest Friend | museum after dark (MAD) tour | Friday, August 2 | 6PM | $10 non-members, $8 members | registration required

The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | gallery talks | various dates | included with admission

SEPTEMBER

Albany History Race: Alexander Hamilton Edition! | in partnership with the Albany Public Library | Saturday, September 7 | 2-5PM | free, but registration required

The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | curator tour | Monday, September 16 | 10AM | $25 per person | space is limited and registration is required 

Casting Call: Assembling Artifacts for The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | lecture | Sunday, September 22 | 2PM | included with admission | space is limited | Diane Shewchuk, Curator

Saratoga Battlefield & Philip Schuyler House | museum travel program | Wednesday, September 25 | 8AM–3PM | $85 per person includes transportation, tours, and lunch | space is limited and registration is required 

Hamilton: How the Musical Remixes American History | lecture | Sunday, September 29 | 2PM | ages 16+ | lecture will be held at Siena College | Free for Albany Institute members and Siena College students and faculty, $10 general public | Dr. Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland

OCTOBER

Schuyler Social: Afternoon Tea | public program | lecture + tasting | Saturday, October 5 | 2PM | $15 members, $20 non-members | space is limited and registration is required | register online

The Power of Objects in 18th Century British America | lecture | Sunday, October 6 | 2PM | included with admission | space is limited | Dr. Jennifer Van Horn, Assistant Professor of Art and History, University of Delaware

The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | curator tour | Monday, October 7 | 10AM | $25 per person | space is limited and registration is required 

The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle | curator tour | Monday, October 8 | 10AM | $25 per person | space is limited and registration is required 

The Indelible Schuyler Sisters: Recovering Women in Eighteenth Century Biography | lecture | Thursday, October 10 | 6PM | included with admission | space is limited | Danielle Funiciello, PhD Candidate at the University at Albany and New York State Museum Research Fellow

Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early Republic | lecture | Sunday, October 27 | 2PM | included with admission | space is limited | Cassandra Good, Assistant Professor of History and Politics, Marymount University

More to be announced soon!