Object of the Day

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Office interior with figures standing along walls; and figures sitting at desk at left; map on wall and screen; waiting area at center of floor.
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to America
In his famous book, On The Road (1957), Jack Kerouac relays a cross-country adventure he undertook in 1949:  “…. eyes bent on Frisco and the coast, we came into El Paso as it got dark, broke. We absolutely had to get some money for gas or we’d never make it. We tried everything. We buzzed the...
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...
Fanciful, organic shapes, printed in orange, green and pink, on a light blue ground. The large floral motif has a hand-like appearance.
Wallpaper Sure to Come in Hand-y
This machine printed wallpaper features a repeating pattern of orange hands and pink feathers floating down a light blue background like snowflakes – or does it feature flower buds and tiny balloons? Or, wait, maybe it’s actually a portrait of microbes having a party. The only woman who knows the true inspiration behind this funky...
Small piece from a set of bed hangings, with an all-over pattern of bees on a fine net ground. On the left side, a column of lilies and their foliage. A scalloped edge is formed of gracefully curving laurel branches surrounding clusters of berries.
Malmaison Bed Furnishings
This valance fragment is just a small piece from a set of bed furnishings commissioned by Napoleon I (1769-1821) for his wife Joséphine (1763-1814). Intended for their home in Malmaison, located outside Paris, the commission consisted of a ceiling canopy, pair of curtains, bed cover and valance. Made of fine point d’Alençon lace by the...
Cylindrical, fluted metal body, horizontal ridges at top; tapering, flat-topped, cylindrical metal cup inverted over bottle mouth to serve as cap; cap unscrews and lifts off to reveal small cylindrical rubber stopper, with circular metal top and hinged toggle latch, set snugly into circular mouth of interior glass vacuum bottle.
One for the Road
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Scottish scientist Sir James Dewar developed glass vacuum bottle technology for his work with liquid gases. The bottle had a function applicable to daily life as well–keeping beverages fresh, meeting a basic need as more people joined the work force, taking meals to their jobs.  More people were...
Imaginary view of a prison interior
The Interior of Nightmares
Prison design has been a topic of debate and a site for innovation, even in the eighteenth century. This etching is Plate 14 from a series of imaginary prison interiors designed by the Roman architect, designer, and print maker, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720- 1778). This print is both an exploration of the limits of the...
Two columns of scaled dots in pale yellow printed against a background which shades from light to dark orange. The largest dot is printed against the darkest orange. This is the cantaloupe colorway.
Taking Wallpaper Back to its Roots
Infinity is a pattern of dots that scale from small to large back to small, printed in two columns across the width. When seen from a distance the design is slightly reminiscent of crocodile hide. I find a great energy in this crescendo of dots over the ground painted with a mottled finish, and the...
Three tiers of fountains of glass descend from the top, set off by swags of glass drops, the blown glass stems delicately engraved; gilt lower ring with six candle arms and an upper ring connected by the glass-surrounded stem and by three chains, all of metal, the lower ring supporting a blue glass disc at the base of the stem.
The Neoclassical North
This three tiered chandelier in the form of a cascading fountain is garlanded with swags of cut glass drops. Three delicately blown baluster-shaped pieces of cobalt glass are linked by chains of gilt metal. The reserved neoclassical form and use of blue glass strongly indicate that the chandelier was made during the last quarter of the eighteenth century in...
Drawing showing female personification of Truth and Fame on a spandrel
Between Fame and Truth
This drawing is a design for a spandrel, the roughly triangular space between the left or right exterior curve of an arch, by the French academician and painter François Boucher.  The drawing is executed with black chalk, pen, brown ink and wash and represents the personification of truth and fame honoring Louis XV. In the...
1931-45-59 lo res
The Delicate Balance of Nature
This figural landscape paper contains four different views and is printed in about 13 colors. This is a cleverly rendered pattern with a complicated format that was inspired by arabesque designs of the late nineteenth century. The earlier arabesque designs contained landscape scenes or activities placed upon thin plateaus, each delicately balanced and supported by...