Photo courtesy of Yale University Press.

William DeGregorio (MA ’12, PhD ’21) recently co-authored a lavishly illustrated, two-volume publication about the pioneering collector of early English decorative arts, Percival D. Griffiths, for Yale University Press.

According to DeGregorio, in the early twentieth century, Griffiths (1861—1937) formed one of the first real collections of early English furniture and needlework, and he is revered for his connoisseurship and taste. DeGregorio was approached to work on the project based on his expertise in fashion and textiles as well as collectors and collecting.

While he was writing the book, DeGregorio was also finishing his PhD at BGC. Without the training that he received at BGC and the mindset he developed for talking to collectors while working on his dissertation (about the early years of the Museum of the City of New York and the founding of its costume collection), he said that the book would never have become a two-volume, 800-page publication. DeGregorio continued, “I have knowledge of and interest in English needlework, but I was most intrigued by the history of collecting. I found myself really engaged in ideas of how things end up in museums or don’t, how they are collected and dispersed, and how a collection could become a catalogue of one man’s stuff. We tracked every piece that ever passed through Griffiths’s hands, where it is now, and what happened to it along the way. So the project has BGC written all over it.”

The Percival D. Griffiths’ Collection: English Furniture 1680 - 1760 and English Needlework 1600 - 1740 is available from Yale University Press.