Something light and bright, fluffy and joyful and merely decorative for Valentine’s Day: I wanted to use the occasion to reaquaint myself with some decorative arts databases. Between my last book project and the two that I’m working on now, and teaching, and being frequently frustrated with Salem heritage and preservation issues (as you know all too well here) I don’t have much time for wandering about in digital image archives. But I gave myself permission to do so this weekend, and here are the results! If you have a universal symbol like ♥♥♥ as your keyword, you’re going to get thousands of results: I limited mine to textiles, and then just chose my favorites by purely aesthetic standards. Whether these fabrics were created for the table, or the wall, or a person, they are more about adornement than adoration.
Above: Furnishing Fabrics from Alsace, c. 1840, Metropolitan Museum of Art, A.C. Pugin, 1851, Victoria & Albert Museum, France, later 19th century, The Design Library, C.F.A. Voysey (who clearly loved hearts!), 1900-1929, Victoria & Albert Museum, and a heart handkerchief by Sylvia Chambers, 1940s, Glasgow School of Art Archives. Below: “Hearts & Flowers” from Folly Cove designer Peggy Hamilton, 1955, Cape Ann Museum.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Great sites for exploring decorative motifs (not just HEARTS) here.
I love WaterhouseWallhangings, a company which has been manufacturing wallpapers based on historical patterns for decades, and will do anything or go anywhere to see their papers in situ, so when I saw an instagram post about a recently-completed restoration project up in Amesbury featuring their work I drove right up there despite the fact that I had just returned from another road trip and was fairly exhausted. The Amesbury house was where Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science faith and church, had lived for a time, and it was restored under the auspices of the LongyearMuseum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, an institution which is charged with presenting and teaching all aspects of Eddy’s life. Towards this aim, the Museum owns and operates 8 historic houses (all in New England) in which Eddy has lived, and the Amesbury house is the latest restoration. I confess to knowing very little about Eddy and the Christian Science church, even though I’ve lived in fairly close proximity to three of her houses: the Chestnut Hill Mansion in which she died, which is quite close to Newton Center where I lived while I was in graduate school (now undergoing an extensive restoration), and the Lynn and Swampscott houses which are not far from Salem. My motivations for running up to Amesbury this weekend were exclusively materialistic: I went for the wallpaper, and not for Mary Baker Eddy. But when I got to this lovely little c. 1780 house and talked to the Longyear staff on hand for its open house, I came away very impressed with the overall restoration effort: it was almost as if they had pursued preservation as an act of faith. It is not a grand house, and Eddy did not live there for very long, but it was part of her story and thus no detail was spared to make it shine again. We could only see the shine, but an extensive and costly restoration, inside and out, preceded the decoration. I came for the wallpaper, but left with a great deal of restoration respect, and now I need to see more Longyear houses!
A wallpaper tour of the Bagley House in Amesbury, where Mary Baker Eddy lived for brief periods in 1868 and 1870:
Waterhouse has extensive archives of wallpaper prints, and can also reproduce from fragments, as you see here. The aqua floral paper that you can see in the larger bedroom above is “New England Floral”, the same paper we have in our dining room (below) and library.