This Month on Curious Objects


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The technique of reverse-painting was introduced to China in the late 1600s by its European trading partners. . . Learn more.


Through interviews with leading figures in the world of fine and decorative arts, we explore the hidden histories, the little-known facts, the intricacies, and the idiosyncrasies that breathe life and energy into antiques and works of art.


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Museums and the Lure of the Sell-Off, with the PMA’s director and CEO Timothy Rub

The Association of Art Museum Directors killed something of a sacred cow last year when it ruled that museums will be permitted to use funds from deaccessioned artworks—previously strictly controlled—to pay for a wider array of institutional costs.

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Curious Objects: The Book of Hours: A Medieval Best-Seller

More popular than the Bible: that’s what the richly illustrated volumes known as books of hours—which helped worshipers keep track of each day’s seven canonical prayer periods—were during the Middle Ages.

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Corot’s Impressionist Lunchbox

Only nine times in his seventy-eight years did Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot paint on anything other than canvas, paper, and panel. On one occasion, offended by the crude wooden lunchbox carried by his friend Alfred Robaut, Corot had a new one constructed, which he decorated with a plein air painting, Fraîcheurs matinales (Morning Freshness).

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Five Hundred Years of American Craft, with Glenn Adamson

Glenn Adamson makes his second appearance on Curious Objects to discuss his new book, Craft: An American History. As his research shows, artisans from Paul Revere and Betsy Ross to Patrocino Barela and George Barris played a crucial and under-examined role in the formation of the United States’ national character.

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Blended Spirits: A Curious Objects Cocktail Hour at the Winter Show

A cocktail hour Zoom chat about alcohol-friendly antiques at the this year’s (virtual) edition of the Winter Show, the year’s premier antiques fair. You’ll hear about wacky objects and the wild stories behind them from some of the show’s most irreverent dealers.

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What two paintings from the 1930s can tell us about women’s issues

Around 1930, two British artists, Agnes Miller Parker and Jessica Dismorr, went to work on a pair of paintings that are now on view at the Fine Art Society’s galleries in London and Edinburgh. FAS principals Emily Walsh and Rowena Morgan-Cox explain how two women painters made their way when the art world was still male-dominated.

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A Dalva Brothers Wonder Cabinet Turns Heads at Christie’s

Dalva Brothers, Inc., specializes in the sort of lux 1700s French furniture that just screams ancien régime. Some 250 of the choicest items from the firm’s inventory are being offered at Christie’s this October, and David Dalva III, along with Jody Wilkie, talk with Ben about the crème de la crème

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“The Most Awesome Cup of All Time” . . . and 500 Other Objects

Dealer Adam Ambros and curator Ed Town join Ben to talk about a collection of mostly small objects made in Britain between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, many of them marked with a date, the subject of a new book from the Yale Center for British Art called Marking Time: Objects, People, and Their Lives, 1500–1800.

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A Fireback from Hell—Ironworks and Industrial Labor in the Antebellum South, with Torren Gatson

Scholar Torren Gatson, guest editor for the current edition of the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, comes on the podcast to talk about an iron fireback produced at the Vesuvius Furnace in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

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A Journey to the Center of the Earth, with Robert McCracken Peck

Drexel University’s Robert McCracken Peck comes on the podcast to talk about the "hollow earth" theory and a perforated wooden globe in this episode of Curious Objects

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An Armchair’s Astonishing Provenance, with Tiffany Momon

This month, Ben speaks with Tiffany Momon, visiting assistant professor at Sewanee University in Tennessee, and founder of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive, a scholarly resource that explores the contributions that African Americans have made to the material culture of the United States.

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The Life and Labor of Enslaved Potter Dave Drake, With Ethan Lasser

In this episode, Ethan Lasser, chair of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, tells the story of Dave Drake, an enslaved potter at work in Edgefield County—and that of an 1857 storage jar that bears the lines: "I made this Jar for Cash-/ though its called lucre trash/ Dave.”

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Thirty-five Saxon Suits of Armor, with Chassica Kirchhoff

It's kinetic sculpture, it's haute couture, it’s . . . armor! This month, Ben speaks with Chassica Kirchhoff, an assistant curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts, about a suite of metal suits from the 1500s that were worn and jousted in by the dukes of Saxony.

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The Mystery of the Michelangelo Bust

This month, Ben and Michael speak with Jennifer Tonkovich, curator of prints and drawings at the Morgan Library and Museum. The focus is an odd bronze bust of a crying child—once believed to have been sculpted by Michelangelo.

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Afterlife in Alabaster: A Canopic Jar from Charles Ede

Join us on a journey to ancient Egypt as we explore the quirky material history and dead-serious religious significance of a very curious object: a 2,500-year-old Imsety-headed canopic jar. Charis Tyndall of UK antiquities dealer Charles Ede guest stars.

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Winter Show and Tell: Three young dealers and the antiques they ❤️

Special guests James Boening (James Robinson, Inc.), Ria Murray (Lillian Nassau), and Taylor Thistlethwaite (Thistlethwaite Americana), joined hosts Ben and Michael at the Park Avenue Armory for a live discussion about six fascinating objects.

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Since 1922, The Magazine ANTIQUES has been the leader in fine and decorative arts scholarship. We’re certain that you’ll enjoy this twenty-first century means of telling stories about the things we collect and cherish.

A new episode of Curious Objects is available each month on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and other podcast platforms. We hope you will share your feedback as we continue development in 2022.

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Benjamin Miller, Host

Ben has been director of research at S. J. Shrubsole since 2016, and is one of the rising stars of the New York art and antiques scene. After leaving his native Tennessee, Ben earned his bachelor's degree at Yale. He is a specialist in antique silver, estate jewelry, and anything old with a good story. Together with Soane Foundation executive director Michael Diaz-Griffith he is the co-founder of the New Antiquarians, a community of interest for the next generation of art and antiques enthusiasts. Check out his Instagram, @objectiveinterest, for more context surrounding the objects on each month's episode of Curious Objects.