Object of the Day

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1931-88-172-a,b
A Question About Two Turkeys
“Can you help us in identifying where our birds were made?”[1] This inquiry is one of numerous others regarding two fowl from a 1968 letter from Catherine Lynn Frangiamore, then an assistant in the Department of Decorative Arts (now Product Design and Decorative Arts) at Cooper Hewitt, to Lino Sandonnini, then director of the Museo...
1937-57-3
A Rockefeller Relic
This example of Lincrusta-Walton wallpaper is a rare remnant of the interior decoration of the Rockefeller mansion formerly at 4 West 54th Street. It was installed as a frieze paper in the dining room in 1884, as can be seen in the images below, where it remained until the mansion was torn down in 1937....
1981-28 Matt Flynn 005
Stitching Architecture
Polly Turner’s sampler, worked in 1786, is one of the earliest known examples made at Mary Balch’s school in Providence, Rhode Island. According to tradition, the sampler’s five-bay house represents the residence of the president of Rhode Island College. Polly’s is the first known needlework depiction of the house, which appears on at least six...
Malman
Dogs of New York
Christina Malman’s 1935 drawing of a woman embracing a dog is both aesthetically  magnetic and brimming with affect.  Using a brush with black ink and white gouache, Malman masterfully utilizes positive and negative space to create simplified forms that are at once sleekly modern and yet familiar.  The figures are depicted in a kind of...
143054_4722c7f649732d9b_b[1]
Living in a World of Nursery Rhymes
As one of the best-known British decorative artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Walter Crane’s design touched upon the fields of books, textiles, wallpaper, stained glass, and ceramics. Children’s education played a considerably important part in the subject matter of Crane’s book illustration and wallpaper designs. In 1875, Crane (1845-1915) was commissioned by Jeffrey...
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...
2015-46-1
Starry Indigo
Starry Indigo embodies two vital Japanese textile traditions which derive from the kimono: indigo dyeing which can achieve the darkest and lightest of blues through repeated dipping in the dye vat, and woven silk accentuated by luxurious metallic coated washi thread (silver in Starry Indigo). The appearance of starlets twinkling in a midnight blue sky...
Drawing, Mount Katahdin Rising over Katahdin Lake, before 1878; Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900); USA; brush and oil paint, graphite on paperboard; Sheet: 30.6 x 50.8 cm (12 1/16 x 20 in.) Frame H x W x D: 60 x 75.6 cm (23 5/8 x 29 3/4 in.); Gift of Louis P. Church; 1917-4-626
Cut Out Katahdin
“The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there.”   – Henry David Thoreau, “The Maine Woods” Praised by his mentor Thomas...
2016-5-11
A Landmark Design with an Aluminum Shine: John Vassos’s RCA Victor Special Phonograph
This sleek icon of American design embodies the simultaneous rise of listening technology and the streamline moderne style in the 1930s. This portable phonograph’s mechanism was engineered by Alfred Weiland and Selden T. Williams while its case and overall aesthetic were conceived by the prolific graphic and industrial designer John Vassos. Born in Romania, Vassos...