Object of the Day

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Henry Varnum poor_1988-44-5
Poor’s Plate
Upon his return from military service in Europe in 1919, Henry Varnum Poor settled in an artists’ community in New City, New York where he purchased land and began single-handedly building a home called Crow House, named after the local birds who kept him company while he worked. As a struggling painter Poor was always...
Dedication page for an album of metalwork, shows text surrounded by a rococo frame
A Royal Visit
Dedication pages are as old as the history of publishing—if not older. However, it is rare that we see a dedication page featuring a scene such as the one illustrated here. This print is a dedication page from Recueil des ouvrages en serrurerie (1767), an album of engraving featuring metalwork designs by the French ironmonger,...
2013-50-43
A Stool of a Rare Architect
We can define as “rare” an artist whose work is hard to reach or to see, because there are only few creations that remain from him, and because the tracks that could explain most of them are lost. Trying to reach them becomes a true quest for the art lover. Pierre Chareau (1883-1950) was such...
Folding fan, France, 1790-1800, bone sticks, painted paper leaf, sequins
A Fan of the Directoire Period
This finely painted paper fan exemplifies the simpler styles of the Directoire period and the effects of the French Revolution in 1789. The period 1789-1800 is characterized by a radical change in fashion: the excesses of the pre-revolutionary period were rejected for simpler designs and humbler materials. Earlier 18th century fans were elaborate in design...
Vase design with the lid in the shape of a tortoise
The Tortoise and the Vase
It may take a moment to figure out this eccentric vase design: is a tortoise sitting on a faceted plinth or are the two integrated into a single design? This eccentric print actually shows a vase, or an ewer with a lid shaped like a tortoise. Its mouth serves as the sprout, and its tail...
1968-111-10
The Fox and the Crow
The fables attributed to the ancient Greek slave, Aesop, have remained relevant for thousands of years and been depicted by countless generations. Here we see an old favorite, “The Fox and the Crow,” retold through the magic of wallpaper. This paper was made in France, c. 1840, and the design is block-printed on white satin...
2013-54-2
Modern Geometry
Who knew geometry could be so beautiful? This 1928 sugar bowl and creamer set epitomizes American modern design; yet, it is clearly influenced by the modern turn of European design from the same period, as evidenced by the Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, 1925, as well as by Walter Gropius’...
1913-45-10-a,b
American Bandbox
Bandboxes, rendered completely obsolete in today’s world of attached collars, were once a necessary possession for any man who liked to wear shirts. This patriotic example dates c. 1821- 1824, and it has lived within the collections of the Cooper Hewitt and its predecessors since 1913. The box is constructed of pasteboard covered in block-printed...
The Chinese Drawing Room Looking Toward the Conservatory, Middleton Park, Oxfordshire, 1840
A Chinese Fantasy
This room portrait is one of two views of the Middleton Park drawing room in Cooper Hewitt’s Thaw Collection.  The interior was designed in the chinoiserie style and shows a room mostly filled with bamboo furniture, a Chinese or Chinese style painted or wallpaper of exotic birds sitting in trees, and a frieze of pseudo-Chinese...