Author: Rebekah Pollock

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1967-85-4-a
International Style Tea
This Austrian tea service was designed in a thoroughly modernist style. Forms have been radically simplified to their stark geometric essence. The pieces have no applied ornament, adhering to the principle of “form follows function”, one of the central tenets of modernist industrial design. Following the First World War, new economic and social conditions made...
1980-21-6
Pottery of Precision
Lucy Martin Lewis learned to make pottery from her great-Aunt and other women living in Sky City, a remote three hundred foot high sandstone mesa in Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Until the middle of the twentieth century, the community had no plumbing and pottery jars were necessary for hauling essentials to the waterless mesa. Pottery...
1931-43-58
A Gift for Marie Antoinette
The initials “MA” in the central cartouche of this iron music stand belong to Marie Antoinette, who married the future Louis XVI of France in May of 1770. Winged putti fly over a musical score carrying banderoles inscribed with the surnames of Baroque French composers, including that of Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687), whose opera Persée was...
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...