"The Finest of its Kind": Percival Griffith's Collection of Early English Needlework

  • December 6, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
  • Bard Graduate Center

    38 West 86th Street
    New York, New York 10024
Ticket Price $0.00-$15.00 This event is now over

“The Finest of its Kind": Percival Griffiths's Collection of Early English Needlework

A lecture by William DeGregorio (Metropolitan Museum of Art; Bard Graduate Center MA ’12, PhD ’21)

December 6 at 6:00 pm

38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall


$15 General | $12 Seniors | Free for people associated with a college or university, people with museum ID, people with disabilities and caregivers, and BGC members


In the interwar period, chartered accountant Percival D. Griffiths (1861–1937) formed what is today considered to be one of the finest collections of seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century English furniture and needlework amassed in the twentieth century. At Sandridgebury, his country house near St. Albans, Griffiths created an antiquarian fantasia, surrounding himself with masterpieces of walnut and mahogany, accented by hundreds of masterworks of the needle. While his collection of furniture is more widely known due to the extensive bibliography devoted to it by his advisor, scholar R.W. Symonds, Griffiths's exceptional collection of Stuart and early Georgian needlework has remained, until now, far less recognized for its quality and significance. This alumni spotlight lecture, based on the author's research for the recently published two-volume monograph on Griffiths, provides an overview of Griffiths as a man and collector, and explores the pivotal role he played in transforming the popular opinion of seventeenth-century needlework, from “grotesque” embarrassment to “glorious” source of national pride.



William DeGregorio is the co-author, with Christian Jussel, of The Percival D. Griffiths Collection: English Furniture 1680-1760; English Needlework 1600–1740 (Yale University Press, 2023). He earned a MA (2012) and PhD (2021) from Bard Graduate Center, with a dissertation devoted to the relationship between period rooms and costume at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). Previously he worked as a conservation technician at MCNY overseeing the assessment of its costume collection and as a research associate at Cora Ginsburg LLC. He has contributed to numerous exhibition projects and publications, including Arnold Scaasi: American Couturier (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2010), Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced (MCNY, 2013), Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s (Fashion Institute of Technology, 2014), and Mod New York: Fashion Takes A Trip (MCNY, 2018). While focusing materially on costume of the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, his academic research concerns the relationship between fashion and museums; the roles of collectors, dealers, and curators in shaping public collections; and exhibitions as sites of shifting epistemological discourse.



Date & Time

Wed, Dec 6, 2023 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Venue Details

Bard Graduate Center

38 West 86th Street
New York, New York 10024 Bard Graduate Center
Bard Graduate Center

Bard Graduate Center is devoted to the study of decorative arts, design history, and material culture through research, advanced degrees, exhibitions, publications, and events.

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