In its early introduction to Europe, “tea drinking was a socially prominent activity reserved for the upper class, and it required teawares that reflected this fashion and the position one held in society.” This remarkable tea and coffee service is distinguished not only by its unusual design, but also it’s mode of manufacture. Each of the body pieces is made in the technique of the silversmith, whereby they were beaten over wooden formers, rather than cast. To this end, numerous tiny hammer marks can be detected on the gilded interiors.
This monumental cabinet bears the signature of Charles Toft (1832–1909), Chief Modeler at the Wedgwood ceramics manufactory from 1877 to 1888. Born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Toft was the son of an engraver and began his career as a modeler for Minton in the 1850s and later studied at Stoke Art School 1860-64. He taught modeling at Birmingham School of Art between about 1868-1873 and was appointed chief modeler at Wedgwood’s from 1877 to 1888.
We’re very close now to ringing in the new year, and for many that celebration will include a display of fireworks!
Fireworks are generally recognized as originating in China as early as the 7th century. By the 14th century they had made their way to Europe, where they were rapidly developed in Italy and Germany before spreading throughout the rest of the continent. It was discovered that the effects of firework displays were amplified by placing them on floats in water, where more light and noise would be reflected back towards the audience, and they grew ever more elaborate, employing the work of carpenters, metalworkers, masons, and painters in their construction. By the mid-17th century the science and art of pyrotechnics had developed to create some of the most amazing spectacles, used for entertainment on an unprecedented scale in Europe.
The baroque style, which first appeared in Italy and France was manifested in Spain around the middle of the 17th century, “under the austere, severe atmosphere…of the Austrian dynasty.” Over the 150-year evolution of the Baroque style in Spain, developments in furniture were defined by regional schools, social class, and the current presiding monarch. Habsburg rule ended in 1700 and, with the inauguration Philip V (r. 1700-24) and the Bourbon Dynasty, furniture began to emulate French fashions. Later, Carlos III (r. 1759-88) brought artists in to direct royal manufactories and played an important role in the advancement of the industrial arts. He had come to Spain from Naples, bringing with him the “still recent memories of the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum” which led to a return to the classical in the final development of Baroque.
In the 16th century lacquerware from Asia and the New World was introduced to Flanders through trade with Portugal in the commercial cities of Bruges and Antwerp, and its incorporation into the Spanish-Habsburg Empire elevated its financial and commercial position. Through their exposure to lacquer objects imported from the East, Flemish artisans became familiar with the technique
The present table is a beautifully conceived and well-informed example of the British Regency’s taste for eclectic style, executed in the manner of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson (1817-1875). Thomson worked predominantly in Glasgow, Scotland, as an architect and designer. He inherited the nickname ‘Greek’ due to his penchant for pre-Roman classical architecture, and continued the Greek Revival style even after it fell out of fashion. He was an innovator and his works regularly combined elements of Greek and Egyptian design with modern materials such as glass and iron. “[Thomson] took the architectural language of the Greeks, spiced it up with hints from Egypt and the Orient…and produced modern classical buildings of a distinctly personal character that were without precedent.”1
Now that autumn has finally arrived, it’s time to ready the hearth and put away our fireboards, like this recent addition to the Carlton Hobbs collection.
A fireboard, or chimney board, was a wooden panel designed to cover a fireplace during the warmer months when it went unused. They were especially popular in America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Not only did the board provide a decorative covering for dirty interior of the fireplace, but it also prevented insects and birds from entering a home through a damperless chimney.
This charming, profusely decorated lacquered chest with cityscape, exotic animals, flora and Mexican patriotic emblems was made in the town of Olinalá in the 19th century.
The Mexican town of Olinalá, in the eastern part of the state of Guerrero in the Sierra Madre del Sur, emerged as a major center of lacquer production in the 18th century. “According to Joaquín Alejo de Meave, the village priest in 1791, the lacquerers of Olinalá excelled in the ‘painting’ of gourd cups and larger gourd vessels, but also manufactured lacquered chests, writing boxes, trays, sewing boxes, candle screens and bookstands.”
This spectacular carpet, made in Madrid in the mid-nineteenth century, twice bears the motto of the dynastic sultans of Grenada “There is no conqueror but God” (figure 1).
The increasing 19th century fascination with the Nasrid palace of Alhambra led to the creation of Moorish style rooms in the great Spanish houses from 1850 onward, variously known as ‘Cabinet Arabe’ or ‘sala de fumare‘.
This collection of watercolor drawings is a rare survival of a complete inventory record of a German manufacturer of tools and other metal wares. There are over 1,400 Stock Keeping Units, which include all manner of woodcraft and farming tools, surgical equipment, weighing and measuring devices, traps, pocket knives, a large range of complex locks and cutlery, even coffee grinders, ice skates and waffle irons!
This vast portfolio was produced circa 1800 by the Exporthaus Peter Frohn, a company based in Remscheid, Germany. It is an “early testimony to the flourishing iron-goods industry in the Bergisches Land around 1800.” We are told that the collection of watercolor drawings came directly from the heiress of the family.