Decorative Arts and Design
Christopher Dresser (1835–1906)
Christopher Dresser, one of the foremost independent industrial designers of the nineteenth century, produced an amazing array of forward-looking designs in ceramic, metal, textile, wallpapers, carpets, and furniture as a freelancer for leading firms such as Wedgwood and Minton. He was trained as a botanist and searched for the underlying geometry in nature, as seen in the floral decoration of the soup plate here. He also hoped to realize the promise of the Industrial Revolution to make well-designed products available to as large an audience as possible, often using inexpensive materials: the radically simplified design of the jug here is realized in silver plate rather than silver, and the soup plate is earthenware rather than porcelain. Although we look back at Dresser’s designs—particularly the iconic forms of the jug and toast rack—as prescient examples of protomodernism, the prevailing taste of his time and for decades after was for historically inspired, traditional designs such as the elaborate pitcher here (given by the postal workers of East Liverpool, Ohio, to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905).
5 3/8 x 5 1/4 x 4 1/4 in. (13.7 x 13.3 x 10.8 cm) (show scale)
Underside, central horizontal bar, incised: 'TIFFANY & CO. MAKERS'; '7236'; [illegible mark]; 'SHAWDNEWEREUER'(?)
Gift of Marie Bernice Bitzer, by exchange
Silverplate toast rack with triangular sections, central 't' bar handle and four short feet. Square base toast rack with 7 triangles as holders for toast slices, at base central horizontal bar and attached vertical pole handle with 't' shape finial; the whole on four short feet.
This item is not on view
Christopher Dresser (English, 1834-1904). Toast Rack, ca. 1880. Silverplate, 5 3/8 x 5 1/4 x 4 1/4 in. (13.7 x 13.3 x 10.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Marie Bernice Bitzer, by exchange, 1997.114. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.1997.114.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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