Black History Month: African American craftsman Peter Hill was still enslaved when he served as an apprentice to clockmaker Joseph Hollingshead, Jr., in the predominantly Quaker community of Burlington Township, NJ. Hill made this clock a few years after acquiring his freedom in 1795. Reflect on this historical piece from the American Art collection, on view in gallery 107.
This armor was severely damaged by fire in the 1870s, destroying its gorget (collar) and arm defenses and melting off the gilding that originally covered all its exterior surfaces. Despite this damage, the remaining parts are important as examples of French ceremonial armor from the period of Henri III (reigned 1574–89). The embossed decoration consists of battle scenes of soldiers wearing Classical armor.
[Image - Perfume brazier in the form of a domed building, Constantinople or Italy, end of the twelfth century. Silver, partially gilded, embossed and perforated, 36 x 30 cm. On loan from the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Tesoro, inv. no. 109. Photo per gentile concessione della Procuratoria di San Marco/Cameraphoto Arte, Venice]
Comb case and lid, 1400-1500. Leather. Italy. De boen Amore means With good love. Made for an ivory comb.
A comb was considered an appropriate love gift from the lover to his beloved at a betrothal.The high value of personal possessions encouraged the use of protective cases of all shapes and sizes. These were moulded and stitched in leather, close-fitting and light-weight, exceptionally durable, and have often outlasted the contents. They could be intricately decorated with fashionable ornament, personalised inscriptions and colour. More: V&A
Bird Cup, Georg Ruhl, c.1598-1602, silver gilt, gold, gems and mother of pearl, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection, on loan to the V&A.
The Nuremburg craftsman Georg Ruhl, who made this cover, was known for setting precious materials and natural curiosities in mounts of gilded silver. This bird cup is notable because the effect of the carving is so naturalistic.
The watch of Mary Queen of Scots, c. 16th Century. This Memento-Mori watch presented to Mary Queen of Scots by her attendant Mary Seaton, is from the 16th century. The forehead of the skull is engraved with a figure of death between a palace and a cottage, and a quotation in Latin, “pale death visits with impartial foot the cottages of the poor and castles of the rich”. The skull is held upside down and the jaw lifted to read the silver dial. The hour is struck on a bell. Made by Moyant A. Blois (1570-90). The skull is silver gilt and engraved with figures of death with his scythe and hourglass, Adam and Eve and the crucifixion. The lower part of the skull is pierced to emit the sound when it strikes. The works occupy the brain’s position in the skull fitting into a silver bell which fills the entire hollow of the skull. The hours are struck on this bell by a small hammer.