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Toast Rack

Decorative Arts

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).

MEDIUM Silverplate
DATES ca. 1880
DIMENSIONS 5 3/8 x 5 1/4 x 4 1/4 in. (13.7 x 13.3 x 10.8 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Underside, central horizontal bar, incised: 'TIFFANY & CO. MAKERS'; '7236'; [illegible mark]; 'SHAWDNEWEREUER'(?)
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 1997.114
CREDIT LINE Gift of Marie Bernice Bitzer, by exchange
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION 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
IMAGE overall, 1997.114_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (84%)
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