mythology

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Image features a woman standing next to a tree blooming with golden apples and a pond with a white swan. Holding a fruit in her hand, the woman is pictured from the side wearing a checked day dress, matching cape, and feather plumed hat. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Fashioning Desire
George Barbier’s Au Jardin des Hespérides (Garden of the Hesperides) appeared in 1913 in Gazette du Bon Ton. Translated as the “Journal for Good Taste,” it was intended for an elite readership concerned with high-society culture and entertainment, as well as the latest developments in fashion and beauty. The publication was led by the publishing...
Image features nude man, seated, seen from behind, rendered in green and black ink. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Renaissance Chiaroscuro Woodcut
This print, with its striking green hue, is the result of an innovative collaboration between two Italian Renaissance artists. Working together in Bologna in the late 1520s, the painter Francesco Mazzola (called Parmigianino, 1503-1540) and the printmaker Antonio da Trento (1508-1550) were early adopters of a new technique that allowed for the production of multicolored...
Image features a gilt bronze mount depicting a winged figure in a chariot pulled by butterflies. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Eros and Psyche: True Love Captured in Gilt Bronze
This is a gilt bronze furniture mount made in France, in about 1800. Highly decorative mounts like this one were important elements in interior and furniture design from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. They were created by master artisans trained in a strict guild system which applied exacting standards to the fabrication...
Classicism, Consumerism and Tea
This distinctive tea urn takes the form of Atlas supporting the world. Its triangular base has openwork decoration and rests on three ball feet. The spherical urn is held aloft by the kneeling figure of Atlas, straining as he supports the globe on his shoulders. The surface is decorated with reliefs featuring four wreathed circular...
Hercules’ Second Labor
In this richly ornamented print from the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department, Giorgio Ghisi (Italian, 1520-1582) portrays Hercules’ success in completing his second labor in his print Hercules Victorious Over the Hydra of Lerna. This print was designed for a frontispiece for artist Giovanni Battista Bertani’s commentary, titled Gli oscuri e difficili passi dell’opera...
Swedish Folklore and Industrial Design
The mermaid, a creature formed from the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish, has long been a legendary figure in folklore. From animated films to the sea creatures of sailor lore, the mermaid has been the subject of speculation and admiration. This green-glazed bowl with silver trim designed by Wilhelm...
Moderne Mystery
It is not very often that a clock’s origins provide as much mystery as that of the Zephyr clock. Designed during the mid-30s, it was originally attributed to Kem Weber, a German émigré designer who created several iconic designs of the Streamline Moderne style until evidence arose via a 1938 Lawson Time brochure that Weber...
A Cabinet Fit for a King
The theme of this Royal Jewel Cabinet from France, dated 1824-26, is no doubt indulgence in all forms – especially love and extravagance. Its rich iconography displays symbols of love and jewels, where antiquity is mixed with early-nineteenth century depictions of flowers.[1] The cabinet is constructed of porcelain plaques in a gilt-bronze armature. A golden...
Medea and the Hand Mirror
Sixteenth-century Europe saw, with the apogee of humanism, the reactivation of intellectual and creative energies towards classical antiquity, through which the decorative arts flourished. Designs were highly imaginative, with increasingly complicated, fantastical motifs, in which material opulence coexisted with humanist knowledge in the form of historical and mythological themes.[1] A case in point is this...