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 the 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. AIHA is also partnering with Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, which has developed a Women of Schuyler Mansion tour.

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. Interest in the Schuyler family has increased in recent years because of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show, which 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 will discuss the wide-ranging intellectual, social, and political 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 will also explore 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 will use clothing, decorative arts, portraits, and manuscripts from the Revolutionary Period to the Federal Period to tell the stories of the Schuyler women. The Albany Institute has secured the loan of the rarely exhibited John Trumbull portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church with her child and servant from a private collection, and significant loans from Columbia University, New-York Historical Society, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the City of New York among many others. This is a major loan exhibition. Twenty-six public and private institutions and individuals have lent their treasures to this exhibition. For the first time, objects associated with the Schuyler sisters will be brought together in their hometown and displayed in the  museum’s second floor galleries.

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

Exciting Eyes | teen 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