From the 1830s to the 1870s, designers of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and other household objects drew their inspiration from historical styles such as the Gothic, Renaissance, and Rococo (see the Period Rooms along the corridor to your right). Beginning in the 1860s, designers and manufacturers responded to increased interest in other cultures and advocated a rejection of industrialized production. While today we strive to reflect more sensitively and knowledgeably on the appropriation of styles, symbols, and practices from cultures other than our own, in the nineteenth century there was no such awareness. European and American designers and manufacturers copied, adopted, and exploited images and customs from other cultures without respect or recognition. These manufacturers were trying to create interest in what was unfamiliar, regardless of sensitivity.
Objects both made in Japan and those that appropriated forms and motifs from Japanese models were especially popular, particularly after Commodore Matthew Perry forcibly opened Japanese ports to European and American trade in 1853. Although many of the objects on display here were industrially manufactured, critics promoted objects from cultures, such as Japan and the Islamic world, and historical styles, such as the Gothic, that evoked what were thought to be less industrialized and more “honest” forms of production.
During the 1850s, the development of wood pulp paper allowed for a proliferation of inexpensive magazines and books to be published, and some of these were directed toward the growing middle class, which was enjoying increased leisure time and more disposable income. Women were encouraged in these publications to furnish their homes with lighter furniture and objects. Often, this period of decoration is called the Aesthetic movement, “art for art’s sake,” or “the artistic interior,” and its profusion of highly decorated and painted and gilded surfaces on simple forms dominated domestic interiors.
Here, Ottoman-inspired vine patterns decorate ewer and vase forms, while Japanese motifs are loosely interpreted on a plaque, a silver Tiffany vase, and a gilt-handled vase. The writing desk by R. J. Horner is constructed of yellow-stained maple, resembling bamboo.
Silver, sterling silver, copper, high-zinc brass, copper-silver-gold alloy
height: 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); diameter of top: 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm); diameter of base: 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm) (show scale)
Stamped on bottom: "TIFFANY & Co / 2991 MAKERS 9295 / STERLING SILVER 925-1000 / M"
Scratched on bottom: "103 27/05"
Stamped on rim: "ET"
H. Randolph Lever Fund
Cylindrical with applied, faux-bamboo rim at top, and applied stamped band at bottom with pattern of densely-woven lines in an oriental manner and bordered with simple rim. Cylinder is hammered all over to give effect of water. On front of vase, near top, is a spider cast and applied, with body of gold and legs and head of copper. He sits in an engraved spider's web. Below, to right of spider, is a cast, applied dragonfly, body of copper, and wings of silver. On back of vase are cast and applied leaves of silver, stems of copper. Cylinder, attached to base, in form of a Chinese carved wooden stand with three legs. Base is densely patterned with engraved diaper-work, applied squiggly lines, pierced petals connected by pierced dots, and pierced characters in the shape of Y's. All piercings are outlined by applied borders. In angles of the Y's are sunburst designs. Three feet are of bracket form, scrolled on outer edges, and with squiggly-line decoration. In center of each leg is a three-lobed pierced area. Each leg rests on a double pad foot.
Condition: Good; minor scratches, minor rubbing to applied decoration.
This item is not on view
Edward C Moore (American, 1827-1892). Vase, 1877. Silver, sterling silver, copper, high-zinc brass, copper-silver-gold alloy, height: 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); diameter of top: 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm); diameter of base: 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, H. Randolph Lever Fund, 82.18. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 82.18_SL3.jpg)
overall, 82.18_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2019
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