Small writing desk with curved back continuing in natural curve down the back legs. Liftable writing surface inset with stamped leather. Surface on all sides decorated with Oriental design of petals of mother-of-pearl and entwining lines of brass and silver alloy.
A Bit of Zen
This desk is an example of the Italian interpretation of the Art Nouveau style, known as Stile Floreale. This desk model was exhibited by Carlo Zen, a Milanese furniture manufacturer, at the 1902 First International Exposition of Modern Decorative Arts, in Turin, Italy. The exhibition helped Italy to show the rest of the world that...
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Gail Davidson: For the Love of Beautiful Things
Gail Davidson began her impressive curatorial career at Cooper Hewitt in 1987, as First Assistant Curator. During her 28-year tenure at the museum, she has worked under four directors, seen the creation of multiple new departments, and witnessed the incorporation of technology into the visitor experience. On the eve of her retirement as Curator and...
Ornament print showing 12 designs for a cup
Hot Chocolate, I Love You So
Hot chocolate has been a fashionable drink since the eighteenth century, and the popularization of the beverage also saw the rise of new designs related to its consumption and preparation. This ornament print by the French designer and printmaker Jean-Baptiste Fay shows twelve different designs for chocolate cups. Each cup is decorated with a diverse...
carrying cloth
A Complete Concept
This simple, small rectangular cloth is an example of four-selvedged weaving—the process of weaving cloths of specific sizes and shapes without cutting any edges. The tradition was practiced for millennia in the Andes, and is rarely found elsewhere in the world (in most cultures, woven textiles were cut from the loom). Inherent in the four-selvedged...
Narrow, rectilinear stapler with curved hand grips; sides decorated with overall geometric black and white enameled pattern.
Juwel for a Tool
The design for this stapler was patented in the United States in 1934 by Fridolin Polzer who was at the time working for E.H. Hotchkiss Company, a leading manufacturer of stapling machines, based in Norwalk, Connecticut. In Japanese, the word for “stapler” is “hotchikisu” after the E.H. Hotchkiss Company, which first shipped staplers to Japan...
Figure of small long-haired dog, sitting, head slightly turned; glazed in white with brown patches.
A Royal Menagerie … and Then Some
When the Meissen porcelain manufactury began its operations in 1710, its focus was on producing fine dinner services and traditional functional decorative objects, such as vases. Meissen’s reputation and passion for the modeling of elaborate porcelain figures did not arise until two decades or so later, thanks to King Augustus of Saxony who, enthralled by...
Shows a ballet in the Versailles gardens. Three of the actors are on fake whales in the canal.
A Whale of a Tale: Damsels in Distress at Versailles
In 1664, Versailles was briefly transformed into a mythical and enchanted fairytale land. From May 7th to 13th, the court of Louis XIV arranged a festival of Les Plaisirs de l’Ile Enchantée (Pleasures of an Enchanted Island) in honor of Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV and the queen Maria Theresa, although the...
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An Arabesque by the Best
There is ALOT going on in this arabesque panel attributed to eighteenth-century wallpaper powerhouse, Jean Baptiste Réveillon. The pattern was executed in shades of pink, green, orange and brown on a light-colored ground. As was standard for the time, the design is block printed, and the panel is composed of several smaller sheets of handmade...
Die harmonie der Farben by Guichard #4 small
Rarity of Color Harmony
A significant acquisition to the Cooper Hewitt Library’s special collections in 2014 was Édouard Guichard’s Die Harmonie der Farben (The Harmony of Colors). A rare and important work heavily influenced by the 1839 De la loi du contraste simulanté des Couleurs by M.E. Chevreul, this edition was published in Frankfurt Germany in 1882. Profusely illustrated...