Material Culture of Spectacle: Vincenzo Lunardi’s Voyage in the Skies Over London

June 30, 2022

Winterthur Museum 1956.0038.037, ca. 1784-1790. This tin-glazed earthenware plate in the Winterthur collection commemorates Vincenzo Lunardi’s 1784 balloon voyage from London to Ware, lying about 20 miles north of the city. Made locally by a Lambeth pottery, the plate displays the importation of Chinese and Dutch design in its white-bodied glaze and cobalt decoration. In addition to cobalt, iron and antimony are used to achieve the balloon’s ...

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“All the World’s a Stage”: Winterthur’s Theatrical Fireplace Tiles

May 07, 2022

By Emily Bach, '22 A small table arranged for tea in front of the fireplace in Winterthur’s Simsbury Room invites visitors to imagine two people immersed in teatime conversation. Framing the fireplace are nineteen tin-glazed, delftware tiles that each portray a highly celebrated English actor or actress dressed as theatrical characters. When studied, these tiles represent Georgian England’s innovations in ceramic manufacture, development of theatre ...

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Retail Encyclopedias: The Materials and Making of Sears Roebuck Catalogs

February 13, 2022

By Naomi Subotnick, '22 When Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck founded their mail order company in 1886, they were responding to major changes in transportation and communication technologies.[1. Boris Emmet and John E. Jeuck, Catalogues and Counters: A History of Sears, Roebuck and Company (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950), 26.] An expanding rail system was increasingly connecting the country, allowing retail items to be ...

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The Various Lives of Objects: The Origins & Evolution of a Pennsylvania German Hanging Cupboard

October 16, 2021

By Jena Gilbert-Merrill, '22 In Winterthur’s Pennsylvania Folk Art Room, a cupboard hangs on the wall in simple, warm humility. Yet despite its quiet appearance, this object contains many layers of stories. In researching this object, the history of this form, and the various contexts in which it has existed, I found that, despite its current state, this object has lived a number of lives and may not have always looked or functioned quite as it ...

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