Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

lovely things: antique ceramics at mfa boston

Con­fes­sion time: I adore pot­tery. There is some­thing about hand­made ceram­ics that just thrills me. Per­haps it's the idea of some­thing as ugly as raw clay becom­ing func­tional and beau­ti­ful. Sec­ond and third con­fes­sions: I adore pat­tern; and color; and antiques (oh wait, that was four.) Bring together all these ele­ments, and I'm in Utopia aka the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

I mar­veled at this selec­tion of amaz­ing Per­sian ceramic pieces, mostly dat­ing from the 12th and 13th cen­turies. All these pieces are from Kashan, now Iran. This ewer required extreme skill. First a bot­tle was encased in an open­work pat­tern of hex tiles. Then the spout and han­dle were applied before the piece was painted and glazed. How does it hold water?

13th century ewer from iran - MFA Boston

13th cen­tury ewer from Iran — MFA Boston

Kashan pot­ters invented under­glaze paint­ing. The pig­ments they used in this bowl did not run when glaze was applied. The design and col­ors here would not be out of place in a con­tem­po­rary home.

early 13th century bowl from iran (kashan) - MFA Boston

early 13th cen­tury bowl from Iran (kashan) — MFA Boston

The turquoise glaze on this piece is au courant!

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

These pieces reflect a com­mon motif found in Kashan enam­eled ceram­ics. The fig­ures are often grouped in themes show­ing hunt­ing or other activities.

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

late 12th century bowl from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury bowl from Iran — MFA Boston

late 12th century cup from Iran - MFA Boston

late 12th cen­tury cup from Iran — MFA Boston

Fast-forward to the 17th cen­tury — this dish from North­west Iran shows gar­den foliage. The inten­sity of the col­ors and pat­tern in striking.

17th century dish from Iran - MFA Boston

17th cen­tury dish from Iran — MFA Boston

I hope you enjoyed this lit­tle bit of ceramic his­tory. The MFA has so much more to see, please visit!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

lovely things — jewels, gems and treasures at mfa boston

One of the cur­rent exhibits run­ning at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is "Jew­els, Gems and Trea­sures — Ancient to Mod­ern". It exam­ines the notion that what we now con­sider gems, such as dia­monds and rubies, is much too lim­ited when look­ing at a broader world view. Many other items, whether seen as hav­ing pro­tec­tive value or sim­ply as being rare, have been trea­sured across the cen­turies. Fre­quently, tra­di­tional gems were mixed in with less pre­cious items, with the result­ing fab­ri­ca­tion an object of incred­i­ble beauty. Here are some of the amaz­ing pieces I saw this week:

Apolo­gies for this blurry pic­ture, but this suite of hum­ming­bird jew­els was made of, yes, real hum­ming­birds. Vic­to­rian excess at its most sublime.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston03

real hum­ming­birds as jewelry

Ancient pieces included rock crys­tal and enamel work along­side gems.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

This beau­ti­ful 19th cen­tury Chi­nese head­dress incor­po­rated gilt metal, king­fisher feath­ers, silk, glass and bone along with a host of semi-precious stones.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

19th cen­tury head­dress at MFA Boston

This 17th cen­tury Ger­man rosary fea­tured amber, believed at the time to have mag­i­cal prop­er­ties. Inter­est­ing choice for a Catholic I should think.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

17th cen­tury rosary at MFA Boston

Beau­ti­ful jew­elry in every color of the rainbow:

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

amethyst neck­lace at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

a selec­tion of brooches at MFA Boston

A Faberge bull­dog, made of agate and semi-precious stones, in mem­ory of a beloved pet. Wow.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

faberge bull­dog

Enamel in com­bi­na­tion with moon­stones and pearls, sim­ply remarkable.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

A plat­inum, dia­mond and carved emer­ald brooch from 1928, owned and worn by Mar­jorie Meri­weather Post at her pre­sen­ta­tion to the Court of St. James. The cen­tral stone, carved in India, dates from the 17th cen­tury. 'Exquis­ite' barely cov­ers this piece.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

emer­ald brooch at MFA Boston

Finally, a brooch and cuff bracelet with less refine­ment of the stones, but cer­tainly plenty of char­ac­ter in the fin­ished pieces.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

There are many more won­der­ous exam­ples to see in this exhibit. I encour­age you to attend if you can; the show runs through Novem­ber 25.

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