Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The object of day: Painted St George cabinet

St George cabinet by William Morris1861-1862
The mahogany, pine and oak cabinet, with copper mounts was designed by Philip Webb and painted by William Morris (1834–1896). The painted scenes are from the legend of St George and the Dragon and include Morris and his wife amongst the characters depicted.
The highly decorated St George's Cabinet demonstrates Morris' love of romance. It was painted by Morris for the 1862 International Exhibition in London, to show the products of his new interior design company, Morris & Co. Although the press praised its 'true medieval spirit', the decoration of St George and the Dragon is a piece of pure Victorian romantic narrative.
Listen to the audio below for the views of different generations on the cabinet by Morris.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The object of the day: Japanese pattens

Wooden Japanese pattens

Pattens were worn to raise the walker above muddy or wet ground. They are worn with Japanese socks, or tabi, which have with one socket for the big toe. The socks are white for women and black and sometimes white for men. Japanese footwear has been designed so that it is easy to slip off, necessary in the country where footwear is removed before entering a house.

Presented by the Birmingham University Medical School.

Height:212 mm
Width:82 mm
Depth:100 mm

Saturday, February 18, 2012

William Morris "Fruit" and "Wreath" wallpaper designs

'Fruit' or 'Pomegranate' Design

This early wallpaper design by William Morris (1834-1896) is known as 'Fruit' or 'Pomegranate' and dates from around 1865. It borrows motifs from Morris's medieval-style tapestry work, displaying a historical influence that his early work in the decorative arts shares with the Pre-Raphaelite artists and with their supporter, the art critic John Ruskin.

It also highlights his interest in naturalism and plant forms. At first, Morris tried to print his designs at his studio in Red Lion Square in oil colours from etched zinc blocks. The process did not work.
To overcome this failure, he ordered traditional pearwood blocks to be cut for 'Fruit'. Production was then subcontracted out to Jeffrey & Co. of Islington, which specialised in the production of hand-printed wallpapers. Although Morris's designs were prohibitively expensive and initially the preserve of the wealthy, 'Fruit' is one the most enduringly popular. It became a favourite with the design-conscious middle-classes of late nineteenth century, and is still available from the Morris & Co. division of Sandersons, who own
the original printing blocks.

The object of the day: 19th century leather fireman helmet

19th century leather fireman helmet
A fireman of the Birmingham Alliance Fire Office wore this helmet. At this time brigades were privately owned by fire offices and were employed to put out fires only in properties insured with the office. This helmet is made from brass and leather, with a peak made from tinned sheet iron. Until the mid-19th century firemen wore top hats. By 1866, Birmingham had five fire brigades and 12 engines. By modern standards, the equipment was poor, but a hand squirt could be effective in the hands of a skilled man who knew where to put the water and was not afraid to go near to the seat of the fire.

Height:25 cm
Width:30.6 cm
Depth:24 cm

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitefriars glassware

In 1720, a glasshouse was established on part of the site of the former medieval 'White Friars' monastery, situated south of Fleet Street. In 1823. the glasshouse was bought by successful wine merchant John Powell. The firm's name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd only in 1919, four years before the firm relocated from the City to a new site at Wealdstone, Harrow, in 1923.

The new furnaces were lit using the flame from one of the old works furnaces. The flame had been carefully carried across London in a brazier. The company also had showrooms on Wigmore Street, and this attracted customers from both the domestic and window glass markets.
In spite of there long tradition of producing very fine art glass, the Whitefriars Glassworks is best known for its industrial art glass, which was made from the 1920's onwards and after Harry Powell had retired.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oceanic Art at Bonhams', San Francisco, CA

Seasoned and entry-level Oceanic Art collectors will have plenty from which to choose at Bonhams’ inaugural auction solely devoted to the topic. The Feb.11 event will feature 150 lots of original, diverse works from the regions of Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Indonesia and Australia. The auction’s timing coincides with the 26th Annual San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show to be held Feb. 10-12 at the Fort Mason Center.

Massim Splashboard, lagim, Trobriand or D'Entrecasteaux Islands, Papua New Guinea,
Estimate: US$2,000 - 3,000, € 1,600 - 2,300

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vienna porcelain

A Vienna Miniature Cup and Saucer c.1900

A Vienna Miniature Porcelain Cup and Saucer c.1900, the cup gilded inside, decorated with a central cartouche with finely hand-painted rural scene on puce ground and gilt.
Dimensions: cup 4.5cm diam x 2.5cm high, saucer 7cm diam. Marks:banded shield mark in underglaze blue.
Excellent condition.

Price: £115

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Colours in Continental porcelain and pottery

Certain colours are associated with particular factories or periods. Some rare colours increase value of the piece. Here are a few examples:

Bleu Celeste, Sèvres

The object of the day: Two 19th century cabinets by Henri Dasson

A pair of amboyna, mahogany and black lacquer side cabinets, by Henry Dasson, Paris, circa 1880. photo Sotheby's
Made in the manner of Weisweiller, each with a brocatelle d'Espagne marble top above a frieze drawer and a panelled door, stamped Henry Dasson. 105cm. high, 83cm. wide, 45cm. deep; 3ft.5½in., 2ft.8¾in., 1ft.5½in. Est. 20,000—30,000 GBP - Sold 22,500 GBP
NOTE: Henry Dasson (1825-1896) is amongst the most distinguished of ébènistes of the second half of the 19th century. He had a remarkable career establishing himself as one of the most sought after makers from relatively humble beginings. The son of a leather worker he commenced as a bronzier specialising in clock cases. The catalyst for him to widen his oeuvre seems to have been the purchase of the models and casts from the workshop of Charles-Guillaume Winckelsen (1812-1871). Winckelsen specialised in very high quality furniture in the Louis XVI style with very finely cast and chased bronzes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Queen Anne's dolls

A jointed body and carved face decorated with stylized eyebrows and brightly rouged cheeks characterize the "Queen Anne" style dolls. English woodcarvers and craftsmen began making these dolls in the 1600s which continued through the 1840s. Affordable only to affluent families, the vast majority of Queen Anne dolls where owned by women, who dressed them in the fashions of the time.

The dolls painted almond shaped eyes, changed to glass and porcelain in later years and limbs came to be made of fabric or leather. Some reports note that fewer than thirty 17th century Queen Anne dolls have survived.
Collectors call the wood dolls from England from the 18th and early 19th centuries "Queen Anne" dolls, which is somewhat confusing, since Queen Anne's reign ended in 1714! These dolls, in good to excellent condition, are extremely rare, and cost from about $1,500 for an early 19th century doll, to over $40,000 for dolls made in the late 17th century (very few have survived-less than 30 by some reports).
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