On display through May 2014 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum - part of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg - Threads of Feeling tells the stories of some of the children left at London’s Founding Hospital, a small sampling which exemplifies thousands of infants raised and educated by the hospital between 1741 and 1770.
Infants arrived from various sources: unmarried mothers, destitute parents, even workhouses and churches. A few parents left physical tokens to identify their child should they ever be able to return, most often a piece of fabric. Today the Foundling Museum's collection of everyday textiles is the largest remaining from eighteenth century Britain.
Threads of Feeling opens a door into the world of the working poor in Georgian London: their families, their fashion, their relationship to other facets of society. Many of the existing pieces from the period represent the clothing of the wealthy, but this exhibit and these small textile snips reveal the extraordinary range of fabric and pattern available to the poor, quite different from the black and white picture we might expect.
Williamsburg is the only place in the United States at which Threads of Feeling will show, a felicitous location. Francis Fauquier, one of Virginia’s royal governors, was on the Foundling Hospital’s Governor’s Board for many years, and influenced those around him to pursue charitable causes like caring for orphans.
Learn more about Threads of Feeling, and several museums programs focused on the exhibit.
The Colonial Williamsburg exhibition of Threads of Feeling is supported by the generosity of Mary and Clint Gilliland of Menlo Park, California, through the Turner-Gilliland Family Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Elizabeth Moore Ruffin, Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown of Englewood, Colorado, Berwick Offray LLC, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Barnett.