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"The Art Museum, Southampton" Cream Pitcher

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

This small white cream pitcher in our collection is decorated with a gold gilt around the rim. The most prominent feature of this pitcher is a picture of "The Art Museum, Southampton, LI" painted on its side, which is now known as the Southampton Arts Center.

Much of the gold is worn down due to its use, as is the case with some of the additional paint circling the top of the pitcher. The handle curves upward before descending back down toward the base. From the spout to the furthest point of the handle, it measures to about 3 and a half inches. The maker's mark on the bottom is heavily worn out, with only the words "Southampton, L.I." being the most clearly identifiable remaining text.

The "Art Museum" that the painted picture refers to is the current Southampton Arts Center, formerly Samuel Parrish's own art gallery. The perspective of the Museum the viewer is shown appears to be on the eastern side of the grounds, facing west towards the building. The left-hand side of the building would be where the entrance of the museum facing Jobs Lane was found, as the remainder of the building stretches to the right towards where the theatre would be located. Assorted foliage and trees are found on the greenery of the property, alongside a water fountain found prominently in the center of the picture. Given how radically different the property looks today, this is most likely a rendition of the earliest incarnation of the Arts Center.

The Art Museum - as it was known at the time - was known for housing Parrish's collection of Italian, Greek and Roman reproductions, in the form of many paintings and statues. As time went on, the brick work of the building became worn down, so a restoration was spearheaded by Mrs. Robert M. Littlejohn in 1952. Following this restoration, the museum would be known as the Parrish Art Museum until the mid 1980's. However the original collection and temporary exhibits proved to be too spatially demanding of the original home, so a new Parrish Art Museum was relocated to Water Mill, where it resides today.

The original Parrish Art Museum became known as the Southampton Arts Center, where much of the original collection is seen around the grounds of the property, while space within the interior is reserved for rotating art exhibits alongside its theatre. Amongst some of the original statues Samuel Parrish kept here, they also share the outdoor space with a selection of sculpted works by contemporary artists as of today.



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