This is a birdcage. It is dated 1735–96 and 1880–1910 and we acquired it in 1916. Its medium is lacquered wood with inlaid bone,ivory, and ebony (base); carved and cut ivory, carved wood, carved jade, carved amber, cloisonné enamel, glazed porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
Primarily produced in the era of Qianlong, a Chinese ruler known for his artistic sensibility, this birdcage marries beauty and function. Chinese bird keeping dates back to the 3rd century BC. By the 18th century, pet songbirds and their lavishly constructed cages were synonymous with social stature, marks of luxury and tradition.
When the Hewitt sisters travelled to Europe in pursuit of objects for the museum they were creating (see photo of Sarah, Eleanor, and Amy Hewitt in a Venetian gondola), they collected items that, today, might not seem immediately relevant to a design museum—like birdcages. The European-focused Hewitt sisters acquired birdcages in various media, such as ceramics and glass. Others represent specific architecture from various locations.
This object was
Thomas F. Ryan.
It is credited
Gift of Thomas F. Ryan.
Our curators have highlighted 6 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:
Its dimensions are
H x diam. (a): 56.5 x 33 cm (22 1/4 x 13 in.) H x diam. (b): 6.5 x 33 cm (2 9/16 x 13 in.)
Cite this object as
Birdcage (China); lacquered wood with inlaid bone,ivory, and ebony (base); carved and cut ivory, carved wood, carved jade, carved amber, cloisonné enamel, glazed porcelain; H x diam. (a): 56.5 x 33 cm (22 1/4 x 13 in.) H x diam. (b): 6.5 x 33 cm (2 9/16 x 13 in.); Gift of Thomas F. Ryan; 1916-26-1-a/jj
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.