Electra Havemeyer Webb was drawn to vibrant color in all media. Although other distinguished 20th-century collectors were stripping furniture of the original paint to create a clean and pristine appearance on their antique pieces, Mrs. Webb was amassing all types of decorative surfaces, and preserving the finish, whether intact or not. The fine, folk, and decorative art objects on exhibition here represent the full spectrum of primary and secondary colors as well as dazzling metallics that define Mrs. Webb’s bold and eclectic taste.​

Color draws us to an object. Historically, color serves as a way to help the viewer differentiate between similar items. In fact, connoisseurship relies on the visual recognition of subtle color variations to separate like forms produced by different makers just as companies today use color in branding their products. In the past, color has also been carefully and cleverly used as a means to disguise the appearance of common substances such as pine, pewter, and earthenware in imitation of more expensive materials like mahogany, silver, and porcelain for status-conscious consumers. This is evident in furniture, metalwork, and ceramics in the Shelburne Museum collection.​


Color in Music
A playlist by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Donna and Marvin Schwartz Foundation and the Barnstormers at Shelburne Museum.

Both surrounding by blue and white striped poles in the water canals of VeniceBrown pine chest decorated with red paint and brassGolden carving of a tiger
Oil painting of young womangreen dresstwo porcelain swans
deep majogany hand carved chairweathervane in the shape of a cowgolden chair
silver trophywooden chestrainbow quilt