Author: Rebekah Pollock

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1990-93-3_rs
Books and Biscuits
This trompe-l’oeil biscuit tin takes the form of a stack of books with handsome marbled pages and tooled leather bindings. The titles include some of the most ubiquitous texts in British history, from the moralistic Pilgrim’s Progress to the adventure stories of Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift. The books are a play on the name...
1907-17-134
Easy Come, Easy Go
This gambling token, or jeton, features the double-faced god Janus. With one eye looking to the past and the other to the future, the ancient Roman deity oversaw change — including change in luck and fortune. This is precisely what a nineteenth-century gambler might have hoped for as he cast the silver piece onto a...
1984-135-4
Hurdy-Gurdy Man
At first glance, this porcelain figure is an ordinary jovial musician. He may even seem well dressed, with his bright red jacket and white cravat knotted at the neck. But a closer look exposes the torn breeches, ripped shoulder and scraggly hair. The last point drives home that this is no gentleman. During the eighteenth...
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...