Object of the Day

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1902-1-978
Mantle Fragment of Infante Don Felipe of Castile
This Spanish textile is a fragment of a mantle discovered in the tomb of the Infante Don Felipe of Castile (1231-1274) at the church of Santa María la Blanca in Villalcázar de Sirga, Palencia. Felipe famously led a noble rebellion against his brother Alfonso X, king of Castile, and eventually decided to seek asylum in...
2007-27-10
Poppy Border: Decorative with no Side Effects
This roll of wallpaper sports a rather unusual look. The design is printed vertically but it is not a continuous pattern. Intended to be installed as a wide border or frieze running horizontally, each almost square repeat of this design would be cut apart with the sections installed side by side, as the floral and...
idewall, Waterlilies, 1900–01
Water(proof) Lilies
Dating c. 1900, this feminine French sidewall belongs to a class referred to as “bathroom” or “sanitary” wallpapers. This designation is based on a water-resistant varnish that coats the panel, making it safe to hang the paper near the tub, and possible to wash it with less risk of damage or bleeding colors. For the...
Textile: "Falcon Hunt," by Herman A. Elsberg (American, 1869–1938)
The Collector as Designer
American textile designer and collector Herman A. Elsberg (American, 1869–1938) designed this eye-catching furnishing fabric in the early 1920s. It was hand woven on a Jacquard loom at Elsberg’s factory in Lyon, France. Gold gazelles leap under the watchful eyes of silver falcons on a brilliant green ground scattered with clusters of leafless dark blue...
Frieze, USA, 1906–07
Trees on a Frieze
In this frieze, printed by the Gledhill Wallpaper co. in 1906-7, tall, slender trees stand in the foreground, growing from a well-manicured lawn like elongated stalks of broccoli. A paved, white sidewalk runs horizontally across the length of the frieze, branching off in the center of the panel and leading to a majestic landscape of...
In the shape of a low, wide basket filled with a floral and foliate arrangement, composed of rose-cut diamonds set in silver and gold. Reverse features closed settings; double-pronged pin, the longer of which slips under c-clasp. Possibly originally part of a tiara or a hair ornament.
A Bouquet of Diamonds
This brooch of flowers in a basket is made of diamonds set in silver with a gold backing. The diamonds on this brooch are so numerous and so large that for a time, it was thought that the diamonds were fake and made up of a type of fake stone known as paste stones, which...
Woman's Head Wrap (Nigeria), early to mid-20th century
Yoruba Complete
A married woman must wear a head wrap, or gèlè, in order to feel fully and properly dressed. The manner in which she wraps her gèlè is a personal creative expression. With each wearing, the seven-foot length of cloth is folded, pleated, pinched, tucked, and spread into a new form. Re-tying the wrap each time...
Bogolanfini Woman's Wrapper (Mali), mid-20th century
Magic Mud
The simple name “mud cloth” scarcely does justice to the mastery of chemistry needed for the multi-step production of these dyed cloths. The deep brown color is created using iron-rich mud, fermented for over a year. But the fabric must be pre-treated before to allow the mud to function as a dye, and the motifs...
Man's Hat (ashetu) (Cameroon), mid- to late 20th century
Hat Hair
The spiky projections on each side of the ashetu hat reflect the tufted hairstyles once worn by high-ranking men, frequently represented in sculpture. They can also be interpreted as physical manifestations of the inner head, considered to be the center of intelligence and spirituality. The ashetu hat is worn by the Fon or king, at...