This week is National Dog Week – and what better Museum dweller to highlight than brave Jocko (and his unfortunate companion, the hedgehog) in honor of this important holiday?
In any museum gallery, you will encounter rare and valuable pieces of art. We value well-designed objects for many reasons, including for their materials and craft, their aesthetic design, and sometimes the people associated with them. This luxurious Tiffany & Co. Tea Service from 1905 is a rare object with incredible value in all three categories.
This unusual form with an even odder name begs the question: what is a posset pot?
Posset pots were specially designed for the consumption of a warm, spiced drink popular from the Medieval period into the 19th century. The nourishing beverage, posset, was used to strengthen new mothers, the sick, or the elderly. Though it turns my stomach slightly to think of it, a good posset recipe should result in several layers caused by curdling. The drink is made from milk beaten with eggs, sugar, and spices and curdled with ale or wine, but bread could be added to thicken it. The curdled milk rises to the top, the eggs create a custard mid-layer, and at the bottom is a warm spicy alcoholic drink, accessible only through the straw-like spout of a posset pot’s distinctive shape.
The work of an art historian or curator can sometimes be like that of a master investigator or CIA agent. For example, a trail of clues led to the probable identification of the woman in this painting by Sofonisba Anguissola. Anguissola is one of the earliest identified female artists, working in Italy in the late 1500s. Rare for the Renaissance, Anguissola was famous in her own time and worked as the court painter for the King of Spain, a job she secured thanks to the portraits of her family that she’d painted as she grew up and honed her skills. The girl in this image is the spitting image of many of Anguissola’s family members, with her round face, large hooded eyes, and long nose. But Anguissola had five sisters and two brothers, so who is this?
My favorite design objects are those that ring familiar, but also offer a story-telling twist, like Marcel Breuer’s aluminum Chaise Longue No. 313–or Reclining Chair–in our Museum’s permanent collection.