Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.
APR 12 The Miniature Collection of R. Lee Taylor
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia, houses a great hidden treasure in the R. Lee Taylor Miniature Gallery: a collection of 14 houses and rooms furnished with more than 4,000 exquisite objects that represent more than 70 of the leading miniaturists of the day. They range from historic recreations such as the Shadow-on-the-Teche estate located in Louisiana to Lee Hall, the fantasy mansion he never owned.
Lee commissioned miniature artist Daniel McNeil to create houses and collected the work of the renowned Eugene Kupjack. His interiors were impeccable down to the smallest detail. In Lee Hall the books include actual text, and the attic of another is filled with broken miniature furniture. Curator Nick Powers joins Lay to share the story of this collection and close-up images of the houses’ extraordinary details not possible to see in person.
Powers graduated from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware, and as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley’s curator of collections he oversees, researches, and exhibits the fine and decorative arts of the region ranging from the earliest settlements to the present day.
APR 26 American Views in Scenic Wallpapers
Once paper could be affordably manufactured, it was only a matter of time before it became a luxurious method to decorate the interior of homes and demonstrate refinement and sophistication. By the early 19th century, landscape wallpapers were at the height of popularity, exemplified by French manufacturers Zuber et Cie and Dufour. These companies were best known for their block-printed panoramic wallpapers depicting views of classical Italy, bucolic Swiss landscapes, and a heroic American history.
Zuber’s “Les Vues d’Amerique du Nord” was an instant success in the United States and served as an example of cultural imperialism. American manufacturers attempted to create their own panoramic landscape wallpapers with varying degrees of success. Some added scenes from the Revolutionary War, further emphasizing American pride and independence. Wallpaper historian Margaret Wood joins Lay for a conversation surrounding extraordinary examples of scenic wallpapers from some of the grand homes and museums throughout the country.
Wood is a second-year master’s candidate in the GW Corcoran–Smithsonian Program in Decorative Arts and Design History who has worked at the Winterthur Museum, National Building Museum, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum.
MAY 10 In the Hands of Women: Original Jewelry Design in Early to Mid-20th-Century Paris
Jewelry expert Sheila Smithie examines several visionary French women who exercised their extraordinary creative powers in the 1920s and 1930s to transform jewelry design. Their exquisite creations were destined for a highly select set of collectors, often wealthy women buying for themselves who included the most sophisticated tastemakers of the period. After assembling a significant body of work, many of these women fell into obscurity and it was only in the mid- to late-20th century that their genius was gradually rediscovered. In a conversation with Lay, Smithie introduces the creations of Suzanne Belperron, Jeanne Boivin, Juliette Moutard, Madeleine Chazel, Janine Dusausoy, Renée Van Cleef Puissant, and Jeanne Toussaint and offers insights into why their jewelry for women by women commands such a large premium in today’s collector market.
Intertwined with their stories are those of couturiers such as Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli, the fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and patrons Daisy Fellowes, Millicent Rogers, the Duchess of Windsor, and Doris Duke. Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol were part of a second generation of devotees. To help explain what makes these jewelers’ work so compelling and extraordinary, Smithie offers a “virtual hands-on” session, the next best thing to examining the jewels under a loupe in person.
Smithie is a fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain and was the recipient of its 2005 Christie’s Prize. She has worked as a jewelry specialist, appraiser, and cataloguer, primarily in the auction and dealer markets in Boston and New York since 2000 and has examined many thousands of pieces of period jewelry.
Photo caption: Clockwise: The Miniature Collection of R. Lee Taylor (Museum of the Shenandoah Valley), In the Hands of Women: Original Jewelry Design in Early to Mid-20th-Century Paris
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