Americana Exotica: Antiques Dealer J.A. Lloyd Hyde

Jennifer Carlquist, Newburgh, NY

Tuesday, January 11, 2011Mini-exhibit: 7:15pmLecture: 8:00pm
de Young Museum
Hyde’s Duck Creek residence in Old Lyme, CT

Hyde’s Duck Creek residence in Old Lyme, CT. The Magazine Antiques, December 1957

J.A. Lloyd Hyde on a buying trip in China, ca. 1938

J.A. Lloyd Hyde on a buying trip in China, ca. 1938. J.A. Lloyd Hyde Papers, Winterthur Library

As the Colonial Revival reached its zenith in the 1920s, collecting American antiques had evolved from 19th century relic hunting into an emerging field with its own scholarship, trade practices and social circles. The term “Americana” came to refer to fine and decorative arts created or consumed in early America. A new type of Americana connoisseur furnished idealized versions of America’s past in private homes and museums with antiques.

John Alden Lloyd Hyde (yes, a descendant of Priscilla Mullins’ suitor other than Miles Standish) was a key player in this movement from the early 1920s until his death in 1981. His roles in the nascent Americana movement segued from collector to antiques picker, department store buyer, independent dealer and retailer, finally to specialist at Christie’s, scholar and —-ultimately—- tastemaker. His flair for mixing American, European and Asian antiques is best described as “Americana exotica,” an aesthetic that is well known to Northern Californians.

Lloyd Hyde traded nearly every kind of antique, from prints and drawings, and furniture to entire period rooms. As the field became increasingly specialized, Hyde narrowed his focus to the China trade and its associated objects, antique textiles and lighting equipment. His 1936 book, Oriental Lowestoft, instantly became a standard reference on Chinese export porcelain. He crossed the globe many times in search for antique luxury goods, cleverly retracing early trade routes. Long before Indiana Jones hit the silver screen, Lloyd Hyde earned a reputation as “the archetype of the indefatigable searcher for the rare and beautiful.”

Lloyd Hyde befriended and supplied prominent antiquarians, from curators Charles Cornelius, John Graham and Clement Conger (Clement Conger’s collecting —-on behalf of the public—- was the subject of Gail Serfaty’s “The Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the Department of State” in September, 1992), to collector-patrons Bertha Benkard, Pamela and Lammot Copeland, Ima Hogg, Doris Duke and Helen and Henry Flynt. (Luke Beckerdite spoke about the Flynts’ collecting with “American Furniture at Chipstone: Taking a Private Collection Public,” in October, 1993, and “The Truth Lies Within: Furniture Fakes from Chipstone,” in April, 2002.) Lloyd Hyde’s most important client-friend was Henry Francis du Pont, whose Winterthur Museum retains thousands of Hyde-related antiques, and more than 30 years of near constant correspondence between the two.

Jennifer Carlquist’s presentation will introduce this charming, talented aesthete, and discuss his place in the history of collecting decorative arts in America. Images will include some of the most important “Americana exotica” that passed through his hands, his international ports of call and his own celebrated homes in Manhattan, Old Lyme, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island.

Jennifer Carlquist is an independent design historian with more than 15 years of museum experience. She held curatorial, education, and administrative positions at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum and Glensheen, a Gilded Age estate on the shores of Lake Superior. A recurring theme in her research is the history of collecting, retailing and exhibiting antiques in America. In 2007 she relocated to New York to pursue a master’s degree in the history of decorative arts and design at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Ms Carlquist will discuss the subject of her master’s thesis, the New York antiquarian-dealer J.A. Lloyd Hyde. All but forgotten today, Mr. Hyde traveled the world gathering antiques for some of the most celebrated public and private collections in America. Ms Carlquist has spent much of the past few years engaged in “Hyde and Seek,” identifying Hyde-related objects across the country, and documenting his dynamic life and career. Her research was sponsored in part by fellowships and scholarships from the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, the MIA Decorative Arts Council, the Victorian Society of America and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

7:15pm mini-exhibit

Share your favorite object or image. It could be a childhood doll, a signed baseball card, a “Rosebud” sled, the painting you most enjoy viewing or —-for the most passionate of collectors—- your most recent acquisition.


Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Enter from Level B1 of the parking garage; pedestrians enter from the concourse side of Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and down the steps across the street from the museum’s main entrance.