The 17th and 18th centuries saw a proliferation of ornament prints, popular sources of patterns among artisans who circulated designs across long distances. Marot, a Huguenot expatriate to the Netherlands and court artist to William III of Orange, was a central figure in the creation of the William and Mary style. In 1905, the Hewitt sisters were introduced to Jean-Léon Decloux in Paris during one of their acquisitions trips. Decloux collected drawings, print albums, and decorative arts objects, and soon became one of their agents for purchasing works on paper. To cement the relationship, he quickly donated examples of French ornamental paneling. On Decloux’s recommendation, the Hewitt sisters encouraged the museum’s advisory council to purchase over 500 drawings from Decloux’s collection in 1911; in 1921, the museum acquired 413 albums of Decloux’s ornament prints and related preparatory drawings.
This tureen represents a primary focus in the early collecting of Asian objects: Chinese export ceramics. Erskine, one of Sarah and Eleanor’s brothers, may have collected the tureen for its unusual cartouche, which research has since discovered to be the “coat of arms” for an 18th-century family of Dutch grocers.
Bacchanalian revelry and romance were popular subjects in the 18th century. This fan illustrates the Greek myth of Ariadne, who, after helping Theseus to slay the Minotaur, is deserted by him on the island of Naxos. Here, Dionysus, the god of wine, discovers her there, woos her, and marries her.
Chinese carved ivory fans (hu shan) were extremely popular in 18th-century Europe. This monogrammed brisé example—that is, with blades connected by a ribbon threaded through the top—displays skillfully hand-carved fine vertical lines, which appear as a sheer background supporting opaque relief patterns of curling vines, flowers, birds, and pagodas.
This example may have been made for a Scottish or Irish patron, as the rococo carving is deeper than on most English chairs. It resembles designs from the 1750s published by Robert Manwaring. Few maker names are known, however, as British furniture was rarely signed and published designs provided models for many makers.