The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #5

The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #5

Deadly sins by design at the Cooper-Hewitt; masterpieces of Italian glass sell at Wright; a discovery of ancient pottery rewrites the history of winemaking

Thanksgiving is behind us, and Saturnalia—the ancient Roman equivalent of the holiday season—is right around the corner. The Romans celebrated the annual festival in honor of Saturn, their god of agriculture, time, and liberation, by turning rules and regulations upside down—feasting, drinking, and generally poking fun at their society’s hierarchies.

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The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #4

The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #4

In this edition: Soviet ceramics; the Met’s adorable hippopotami; and inspired British pottery at Yale

Russophiles know that this month marks 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution. Perhaps less well known is the fascinating ‘porcelain revolution’ that unfolded in the wake of the political upheaval. Russia’s 18th and 19th century elites had a taste for fine china. The famously western-oriented and modernizing Russian emperor Peter the Great visited Dresden in 1718, and, delighted by the delicate wares he saw there, tried establishing a porcelain manufactory at home, to no avail. His daughter, the Empress Elizabeth, succeeded where Peter had failed: in 1744, she established the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, under the technical direction of a mining engineer named Dmitri Vinogradov, who developed his own formula for making ‘true’ (kaolin-based) porcelain. The nobility dined on porcelain dinner services, gifted one another porcelain tea sets and painted figurines, and, this being Russia, meticulously decorated porcelain Easter eggs.

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The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #3

The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #3

Autumn is an ideal time for a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass in New York’s Finger Lakes region. As the leaf-changing season peaks, an equally dazzling display awaits inside, where daily glass-blowing demonstrations draw crowds so transfixed that they forget to Instagram the experience. Corning’s permanent collection galleries hold glass vessels, lighting fixtures, jewelry and even furniture dating as far back as Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Glass treasures like ancient Roman cage cups are miraculous to behold in their finished state, but the chance to watch glass being formed into a decorated cup or vase, deftly, quickly, and seemingly without fear, is unforgettable.

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The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #2

The Magazine Antiques: Handle with Care #2

It’s the height of summer, and like the shimmery dragonflies and beetles of the season, fin de siècle-style iridescence seems to be in the air these days. The New York Historical Society unveiled “A New Light on Tiffany,” a luminous re-installation of its famed collection of Tiffany lamps in late April of this year, and in addition to its dreamy exhibition space, designed by Czech architect Eva Jiricna, the long-overlooked story of the “Tiffany Girls” now takes center stage.

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The Magazine Antiques: Handle With Care #1

The Magazine Antiques: Handle With Care #1

The new and noteworthy in the worlds of ceramics and glass can come from any part of the globe, and indeed any century. This month’s crop of highlights range from vintage Americana to contemporary art, with the requisite dash of midcentury style in between.

The quirks and fascinating history of Anna Pottery will be on full view when a rare find from the Illinois studio goes up for sale on June 17 at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates in Mt. Crawford, VA. Anna Pottery isn’t as well-known among collectors as other nineteenth century American ceramics like Rookwood or Grueby, and that may be because unlike the serene and floral ware produced by the famous Arts and Crafts potteries, Anna pottery had an agenda.

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