From the Archives | By Archived articles

Beatrix Potter, scientific illustrator

June 1, 1996  |  By Robert McCracken Peck

Originally published in June 1996

At a time when many house museums have difficulty keeping their doors open, a small cottage in the English Lake District can barely manage to close its doors at all.  Hill top (Pl. VII), the two-hundred-acre farm where Beatrix Potter lived for the last thirty-eight years of her life, is so overwhelmed with visitors each summer that the National Trust, which has owned and operated the property since Potter's death in 1943, has imposed a limit of eight hundred visitors a day to avoid overcrowding.

Potter’s house Hill Top, near Sawrey, England. National Trust; photograph by the author.

To the eighty thousand visitors who traipse through the tiny cottage annually-some from as far away as Japan-Hill top represents a nostalgic return to the comforting childhood world of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, and the many other animals whose adventurous lives filled the pages of Potter's books.  Although it is Peter Rabbit w…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

Parisian jewelry and American patrons, real and fictional

April 1, 1992  |  By SHIRLEY BURY; from The Magazine ANTIQUES, April 1992.

The formidable skill of Parisian jewelers in interpreting the work of innovative designers was the prime cause of their international popularity. Although craftsmen elsewhere practiced the late eighteenth-century technique of open-backed, or à jour, setting, which allowed light to refract and reflect through the stones, greatly enhancing their brilliance, the contrast between the delicate French mounts and the geometrical shapes of the stones was particularly striking (see Pl. III).

The replacement of the Bourbon monarchy by the imperial regime of Napoléon I (1769-1821) did nothing to dim the reputation of the jewelers of Paris, whom the women of the Bonaparte family patronized before and after the overthrow of Napoléon at Waterloo in 1815 (see Pls. I, III, and Fig. 3).[1] At a ball Napoléon III (1808-1873) gave in 1868, for example, his empress, Eugénie, a celebrated beauty, wore "green velvet, with a crown of emeralds…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

From the archives: "New Mexican tinwork, 1840-1915"

October 1, 1991  |  By Lane Coulter; from The Magazine ANTIQUES, October 1991

The art of the tinsmith flourished in New Mexico from about 1840 to 1915. During this period Hispanic tinsmiths primarily made devotional objects that reflected the Roman Catholicism of the Spanish Southwest, but they also made a limited number of more secular objects. They used shapes derived from architecture as well as immensely fanciful designs of their own invention.

Above:  Frame made by Jose Maria Apodaca (1844 – 1924), c. 1910. H: 15 ½. Inches. Collection of Bob and Cindy Gallegos, and photographs are by Michael Monteaux. 

Tinwork developed in NewMexico as the materials-tin plate, glass, and printed religious images-became available to the craftsmen. Two events brought these materials to New Mexico. First, in the summer of 1846 the American Army of the West marched into Santa Fe and declared New Mexico a territory of the United States, and second, in 1851 the French-born prelate Jean Baptiste Lamy (1814 - 1888…» More

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

Patronage and the publication of botanical illustration

August 1, 1989  |   By Bernadette G. Callery; from The Magazine ANTIQUES, August 1989.

Modern collections of botanical illustrations are treaty indebted to the patrons of the past, whose leisured curiosity and horticultural acquisitiveness enabled them to accumulate various "vegetable rarities," and then to have those plants recorded in drawings or paintings from which published illustrations were prepared. Many of the surviving florilegia, or collections of flower illustrations, are records of the contents of specific gardens. many of the illustrators whose work is now collected earned their livelihood by documenting newly discovered or introduced plants nurtured in private gardens. The artist presented the proud owner, and sometimes his friends, with a plant portrait, usually in watercolor, and in some instances these illustrations were collected and published. Prior to publication it was not uncommon for an artist to prepare several copies of a particular illustration for different patrons. 

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From the Archives | By Archived articles

The jewelry of René Lalique

June 1, 1987  |  By GEOFFREY C. MUNN; from The Magazine ANTIQUES, June 1987.

Even if the word genius was used as sparingly as it should be, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century jeweler René Lalique would always be so described. Rather than a craftsman with a leaning toward the artistic, he was an accomplished artist who chose to express himself primarily in jewelry.

The son of a merchant who dealt in pretty luxury goods called "articles de Paris," Lalique spent an uneventful childhood between school in Paris and holidays in the French countryside. It was undoubtedly there that he learned to see nature as a primary source of inspiration; and recording what he saw in the fields and streams was an easy task for a boy who, by the age of fifteen, was earning a steady income as a portrait miniaturist. His interests coincided perfectly with the revolution in the decorative arts known as art nouveau, which rejected eclecticism for a direct interpretation of the natural world. Europeans wo…» More

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NYG 2013

[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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