Author: Sarah D. Coffin

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Tulip laid horizontally, with upper and lower portions of dish composed of full length petals.
Strewing Flowers on the Table
This tulip-form small tureen or covered dish must have appeared a wonderful bit of nature, as if fallen from a bouquet, on a dining table. Porcelain started to take the place of sugar sculptures on the most elegant tables of Europe in the eighteenth century. It came at a time when nature was being observed...
Cut and entwinned ribbon silver brooch, with basse-taille enamel.
A Pretty Thought in a Variety of Shapes
In summer, when weddings are frequent, the thought of objects given in affection or love, makes a visit to the jewelry collection seem appropriate. This heart-form brooch is one of a group of jewelry by Charles Horner (English, 1821-1896) given to the Museum in December. Horner (English, 1821-1896) was an actual silversmith, watchmaker and enamellist...
Shaped open back with voluted top rail and two horizontal crossing members enclosing a verre églomisé panel bearing the arms of the Earl of Scarsdale (extinct 1735). Cabriole sharply raking rear legs, voluted at knees, and with moulded ankles and Dutch feet. Voluted cabriole front legs with gilded pewter mounts at knees; hoof feet. Gilded pewter mask in center of front seat rail. Slip seat.
Personalized Furniture with a Bit of Flash
While it is expected that many people have their monograms, names or other personal devices on stationery, towels, and sometimes porcelain, having personalized furniture is going several steps further.  There are examples of chairs with coats-of-arms carved into the crest rail, and side chairs from New York of ca 1742 with Robert and Margaret Beekman...
Circular form with scalloped rim; white ground decorated overall with molded and gilded trellis pattern with small pink blossoms with yellow centers at crossing points.
A Strong Design for a Woman of Strong Tastes
This soup plate is one of my favorite designs of all times. Its wonderful, overlapping, radiating arcs create a design for any era. On this plate the design is moulded and sculpted in relief suggesting an openwork basketweave, with hand-painted highlights in gold set with pink-painted flowerheads where the weave crosses. Perhaps the pink of...
Scrimshaw, mid 19th century, whale tooth, India ink, Gift of Anonymous donor.
Ahab, Tickle Those Ivories
At the peak of the golden age of whaling, 1825-1865, more than 700 whaling vessels sailed the seas. As a reference point, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was published in 1851. Sailors didn’t hunt whales at night, sightings could be few and far between, and whaling voyages were often 3 years in length. In the downtime,...
Bracelet, Designed and made by Art Smith, New York, NY, ca. 1950, Silver, Gift of Gretchen Gayle Ellsworth and Margot Gayle, 1997-171-1
Art in Metal: The Modernist Jewelry of Greenwich Village’s Art Smith
Joel and Ethan Cohen’s movie that is in theaters now, Inside Llewyn Davis, sets much of its story around the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. From 1946-1979, over on 140 West Fourth Street, the African-American jewelry designer, Art Smith (American, born in Cuba, 1917-1982), fashioned modernist pieces from simple metals that achieved new expressions...
Brooch, 1983. Georg Dobler. Germany. steel wire, acrylic lacquer. Gift of Helen W. Drutt English in memory of Mark Dallas Butler, 1999-55-1
Best Laid Planes: The Jewelry of Georg Dobler
The works of German metalsmith Georg Dobler are imbued with geometry; both in the construction of the forms and in the visual relationship between the forms and the body. Dobler received his masters in goldsmithing in 1979 in Pforzheim and thereafter founded an atelier with fellow goldsmith Winfried Krüger.[1].  In recent years he has worked...
Jeux de Fonds – Astronomie Vase, 1950-51. Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, France, porcelain. 2000-32-1
Sèvres Porcelain Between Tradition and Innovation
Hendrick van Hulst, Head of the Department of Decoration at the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, once said, “the heavy and the trivial should be avoided; we should produce the light, sensitive, new and varied.” These words denote a clear desire, consistent with the firm's history, to set the Manufacture de Sèvres apart from all the...
Model, El Camino Real, 1969. Peter Wexler. Wood, metal, paint. Gift of Peter Wexler. 1971-5-1.
A Stage of Discontent
“As the curtain rises, on an almost lightless stage, there is a loud singing of wind, accompanied by distant, measured reverberations like pounding surf or distant shellfire.” (1) El Camino Real refers to a series of highways dating to the Spanish colonies in North America, most typically associated with the California Mission Trail. Today much...