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Liberty & Co., British, founded London, 1875. Chalice, ca. 1890. Pewter and glass. 6 x 5 x 5 inches. Gift of Janis and William Wetsman, 2016.23

Useful and Beautiful: Decorative Arts Highlights

November 16, 2019 - July 26, 2020

Ann K. Walch-Chan Gallery

Artfully crafted but functional items like vases, teacups, and flatware are often called decorative arts. The term was created in Europe after the Renaissance to distinguish these items from painting and sculpture. This exhibition explores an array of decorative arts including glass by Auguste Jean and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Prior to the 19th century, most glass manufacturers were aiming for pristine, almost machine-made, objects. However, some artists were seeking a different, more handcrafted, quality. In the 1870s, Auguste Jean gained attention by abstracting traditional vessel forms. While the glass was still malleable, he used tools to create protrusions and ripples in the glass. He later decorated the surface with enameled and engraved designs. Louis Comfort Tiffany applied innovative glassmaking techniques to his nature-inspired designs. Favrile glass—a term coined by Tiffany in 1894—was made to resemble ancient vessels, which, when excavated from archeological sites, had an iridescent surface. Tiffany achieved a similar look by spraying metallic salts on hot glass, a new technique that created a lustrous finish.

From the Exhibition

  • Artist Unknown, German. Flagon, n.d. Pewter. 12 9/16 x 4 5/16 x 6 ¼ inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Davis, 1972.7

  • Paul de Lamerie, English, 1688–1751. "George II Oval Cake Basket," 1742. Silver. 14 7/8 x 11 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Richards through the Viola E. Bray Charitable Trust, 1984.23

  • Artist Unknown, German. Fullstock High Art Wheelock Pistol, ca. 1680. Wood, steel, ivory, and mother of pearl. 16 7/16 x 4 13/16 x 1 7/8 inches. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. George H. Greidinger, 1976.19

  • Liberty & Co., British, founded London, 1875. Bowl, ca. 1900. 3 1/2 x 7 1/8 x 7 1/8 inches. Gift of Janis and William Wetsman, 2016.25