Theodosia Prevost Burr (1746-1794)

Cane boned illusion brocade corset with letters between sheets of isinglass. Armature by Lucia Del Sanchez

Cane boned illusion brocade corset with letters between sheets of isinglass. Armature by Lucia Del Sanchez

The Loves of Aaron Burr:
Portraits in Corsetry & Binding

Theodosia Prevost Burr (1746-1794)

Theodosia Prevost was mistress of The Hermitage near Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey. Her French was excellent and as Burr’s improved, so began an intimacy. Ten years Burr’s senior, she was sophisticated and literate, providing intellectual companionship, directing Burr’s immersion in the more radical concepts of the Enlightenment.  Upon the death of her first husband from yellow fever in 1782, they married and had one child, also Theodosia. 

At the Hermitage today there is a corset possibly Theodosia Prevost Burr’s of like that she would have worn. The creation of her portrait began by visiting her corset. A facsimile corset then was patterned and reconstructed in modern day materials as close as to the originals as possible. Then the corset was recreated again in a brocade pattern inspired by the period but of a transparent weave, giving the effect of an x-ray. The proportions were slightly exaggerated emphasizing the form and structure of the corset. 

The structure of the corset needed to be open to an immediate read by the viewer, constructed yet displaying the pattern pieces as assembled. The piece needed to be suspended, requiring a hard look. Glass was too modern, revealing more than is discernable of Theodosia’s character, which is obscure. Isinglass, today called mica, was a period material. The natural, unpolished isinglass with flaws and occlusions is rough and nearly clear with a hue and naturally hard. The pursuit became that of finding the dirtiest isinglass yet thin enough to reveal the corset and letters cast inside the panels perfectly obscuring the view.

The next concern was how to exhibit the piece. My collaboration with Lucia del Sanchez contributed greatly in her creation of the welded steel armature with upright steel straps through which pins of her design are drilled through the mica and secured. The illumination was provided at the Morris-Jumel Mansion by natural light through the dressing room window.

The Loves Of Aaron Burr:
Portraits in Corsetry & Binding
The Film 

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

Preview May 7, 6pm Bard Graduate Center
38 West 86th Street, New York City 10024
$25 RSVP

The Premiere of
The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding Film
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

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.