Margaret Moncrieffe (1763-?)

Boned corset with first edition of “The Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan” J. Fellows, New York, 1795.

Boned corset with first edition of “The Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan”
J. Fellows, New York, 1795.

The Loves of Aaron Burr:
Portraits in Corsetry & Binding

Margaret Moncrieffe (1763-?)

The First Love of Aaron Burr, the allure and seduction of, fourteen-year-old, Margaret Moncrieffe, the daughter of a British officer during the Battle of Harlem Heights is where Burr’s legacy as a profligate begins. In her 1794
The Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan, Burr suspects of spying for the British through “the language of flowers” regards herself less a “victim of seduction” than a teenager with a crush.  Ms. Moncrieffe is coy regards the dashing “American Colonel” who “plighted my virgin heart.” Still, she credits him with her rebellion against “the barbarous customs of society” that kept them apart.

In this piece we contend with the condition of a fourteen year old girl having
a trippingly light and halcyon experience amidst a colonial war while painting pictures of flowers for her own father while losing her “virgin heart” to yet another father figure, that of Burr. The light blue damask corset cradles a
first edition of her “memoirs”, however disputed the authorship, the volume
is the vehicle through which we had first become familiar with her later
debauched life. Looking into the book, arising from the pages, are the florid, watercoloured pages. This portrait was continually worked on after exhibition,

finding a stand with a curved finish, cut away under the hip filled with a peplum beneath the corset. The bones are concealed within the velvet ribbons as casings over the seams. The edges and lacings are traced with a shredded crimson silk and under the book is an iridescent silk square drawing the viewer’s eye back to the book and the original bibliographic material.

Burdett, Charles. Margaret Moncrieffe, The First Love of Aaron Burr. New York, H.W. Derby, 1861. Coghlan, Margaret. Memoirs of Mrs. Coghlan, (daughter
of the Late Major Moncrieffe,): Written by herself and dedicated to the British nation; being interspersed with anecdotes of the Late American and present French war, with remarks moral and political.
London: J. Lane, 1794.

Drawing connections between her own interpretive work and the historic corsets exhibited in Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette, Camilla
Huey will speak on the changing architectural, structural, and functional forms of
corsets, corset-making, materials, and methodologies. The artist employs these
forms in her unique approach to analyzing portraits of nine 18th- and 19th-century women. Through ephemera, fetishism, material culture, and texts, the artist invites
the audience to follow both design and historic research as she explores biographical narrative. She will bring selected works from her exhibition, 
The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding, Morris-Jumel Mansion.

Preview May 7, 6pm Bard Graduate Center, 38 West 86th Street, New York City 10024, $25 RSVP programs@bgc.bard.edu

The Premiere of The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding with select works from the exhibition at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Manhattan's oldest house the very place where the lives of these women, filming and exhibition took place. A reception and screening with discussion to follow. View the works of Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Colonial Arrangements before.

Premiere May 14, 6pm Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace, New York City 10032, $25 RSVP visitorservices@morrisjumel.org

Camilla Huey (artist/couturière) has exhibited artwork at the Bard Graduate Center
and the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City. Her exhibit, 
The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding, paid homage to the women who surrounded and influenced this controversial founding father.