Purchase Story

"Kasten from Mid-Hudson Valley Collections"

Historic Huguenot Street, New Paltz, New York, has on display over a dozen American and Dutch kasten, or Dutch-style cupboards, from the museum’s permanent collection and through selected loans, in the Jean Hasbrouck House (c. 1721) and Abraham Hasbrouck House (c. 1721-41). The exhibition will be open through December 17.

The exhibition is incorporated in Historic Huguenot Street’s general tours, and special focus tours will be held Thursday, November 9, at 3 p.m., and Saturday, December 16, at 2 p.m. The special tours are $20. Advance registration is available online (www.huguenotstreet.org/kasten).

Installation of kasten at the Jean Hasbrouck House, showing, left, a country kast on loan from Jeffrey and Sue Hoffman and, right, a kast from the Historic Huguenot Street permanent collection and the Reformed Church of Kingston. Photo by On Location Studios, Poughkeepsie, New York, 2017. Courtesy Historic Huguenot Street.

Originating with the Dutch, the kast is a furniture form popularly adapted in New York’s Hudson Valley. Although variations exist, the typical kastis a large freestanding cupboard or wardrobe with two paneled doors surmounted by an oversize cornice. The cupboard usually sits on a base with a single drawer or drawers and ball-shaped feet. Some simpler versions made by country craftsmen feature cutout or stylized feet and may not have drawers.

Kasten are known to have been made exclusively in New York, New Jersey, and coastal Connecticut beginning in the early Colonial period and continuing, at least in the Hudson Valley, through the 18th century and into the early years of the 19th century,” explained Sanford Levy, vice chairman of Historic Huguenot Street.

Historic Huguenot Street houses one of the largest collections of Hudson Valley kasten in the nation. This exhibition, Kasten from Mid-Hudson Valley Collections, gathered cupboards from several prominent regional public and private collections, including the Friends of Historic Kingston, the Hasbrouck Family Association, Ulster County Historical Society, and the Reformed Church of Kingston. A Dutch-made kussenkast (c. 1650) with connections to the Elting family and Historic Huguenot Street is on loan from the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands.

Kasten were central to domestic life in Colonial New York. While serving a utilitarian function as the primary storage for linens, these impressive pieces were quintessential to the furnishings of Dutch-American homes, signifying the heritage of the owners as well as their wealth and social status,” said Josephine Bloodgood, Historic Huguenot Street’s director of curatorial and preservation affairs.

The exhibition provides perspective on the influence of Dutch culture in the early Hudson Valley, especially when viewed alongside the accompanying exhibition Living in Style: Selections from the George Way Collection of Dutch Fine and Decorative Art.

A full-color catalog of the exhibition will be available in January at the museum shop and online (www.huguenotstreet.org/shop). For more information, call (845) 255-1660.

Originally published in the November 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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