Author: Rebekah Pollock

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Cushion cover, ca. 1900, England, embroidered by May Morris (British, 1862–1938), silk embroidery on linen plain weave, Gift of Mrs. Curtice Hitchcock, 1975-19-1
The Titan’s Daughter
May Morris will forever be in the shadow of her famous father William Morris, the chief protagonist of the English Arts and Crafts movement, and of her mother, the Pre-Raphaelite beauty Jane Burden. Yet she was an accomplished artist in her own right, a fact evidenced by the skillful design and craftsmanship of this cushion...
1938-71-1
Transferable Skills
Imagine it is Georgian England and you are curled up in front of the fireplace after a long day of damp English weather. Nearby, a family member reads out loud from a recently printed book of fables by the ancient Greek story teller Aesop: “The lion, hearing an eerie voice but seeing nobody, started with...
This is a vinaigrette. It is dated early 19th century. Its medium is silver, niello.
Faint of Heart
Fainting was a common occurrence among nineteenth-century women who tight-laced their corsets, thus restricting both deep breathing and the sufficient consumption of food. Victorian publications warned that fainting could also be induced by sudden and violent emotions, powerful odors and “derangement of the bowels” (a wonderful phrase). Recovery was accelerated by lying horizontally while sprinkling...
OTD_ignudi
Straining against the Void
Some of the most common elements found in grotesque designs are pairs of contorted nudes known as ignudi (plural of ignudo). In many designs, figures assume postures that are variations or counterposes of their lateral mate’s. Like the grotesque motif itself, these compliant figures invite the artist to invent, exaggerate, and rearrange their parts into endless...
OTD_bommel
Acanthus in Motion
A lion and a hare are composed entirely of scrolling acanthus leaves in this late-seventeenth-century engraving. It is the fifth plate from a suite of six designs for gold ornament, entitled Neu-ersonnene Gold-Schmieds Grillen (New Designs for Ornaments in Gold). The acanthus motif, whose origins date to ancient Greece and Rome, was omnipresent in European...
This is a coffee pot. It is dated 1670–1695. Its medium is tin-glazed earthenware with cobalt decoration.
Persian Blue
The decoration of this coffee pot, with its solid ground of cobalt blue, is of a type known as “bleu persan”, after a style of Persian ceramics imported to Europe in the late seventeenth century. Cobalt is one of the few compounds capable of withstanding high kiln temperatures, and consequently is the ideal medium for...
Three jewelry designs, each below the other. The watch chain has three balls connected by thin pieces of chain. The first bracelet has six sheild-like disks connected by joints. The second bracelet has a center section inscribed "VBI AMOR / IBI ANIMA."
Emulating the Ancients in Gold
Capitalizing on growing nationalism after Italy’s unification in 1870, the Castellani jewelry company coined the term “Italian archeological jewelry.” Their copies of ancient Etruscan, Greek, and Roman works appealed to erudite consumers in Europe and America, accommodating nineteenth-century tastes for revival styles. Although based in Rome, the company promoted their designs abroad and won acclaim at...
Door Boss And Nail; Spain, ca. 1500; Wrought iron; Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1931-88-11-a,b
Iron Will
Since the ninth century, pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela in Spain have followed a route marked by scallop shells. The Way of Saint James has lead thousands of pilgrims on foot across the Iberian Peninsula to visit the relics of the Apostle James, who was martyred in 44 C.E. The journey became especially popular...
View across a meadow toward a grotto in the Boboli Gardens which features a fountain. The central portal is flanked by sculptures. At left a wall and the corridor leading to the Uffizi. Beneath it, a tree and bench with a figure. At right, a wall with a view of houses in the distance. A group of figures approaches at extreme right.
Grotto-esque
In the eighteenth century, many Italian artists produced views of popular tourist destinations to sell as souvenirs to travelers on the Grand Tour. This drawing by an unknown artist shows the Grotta Grande in the Boboli Gardens of Florence. Visible within the grotto’s chambers are Paris and Helena, sculpted in 1560 by Vincenzo di Rafaello...