DINING BY DESIGN: NATURE DISPLAYED ON THE DINNER TABLE BY LESLIE B. GRIGSBY
Fig. 1. Tureens like these truly illustrate the 18th-century obsession with bringing nature indoors. Gift of Leo A. and Doris C. Hodroff 2000.61.40.1, .2
From the 1600s onward, dinnerware designs have been inspired by nature. Everything from painted butterflies and hand-modeled flowers to molded seashells can be found on a fascinating range of dishes and plates. In 2018 Winterthur will celebrate many such items through the exhibition Dining by Design: Nature Displayed on the Dinner Table. Whether it’s a recipe for “Barbecued Fawn,” fabulous tureens in the shapes of various animals (fig. 1) , or instructions on how to fold a napkin so that it resembles a palm tree, prepare to be delighted by this unusual, often humorous installation featuring hundreds of Winterthur collection wares as well as promised gifts. As you enter the show, you will be introduced to the acquisition of tableware and food, considering how families with pretentions to fashion would have displayed their meals and dinnerware to best advantage. Special-order items, those made for the general market, and a monumental pyramid of tureens all figure into the display that also features floral-decorated Chinese export porcelain in an arrangement inspired by an early cookbook layout for an elegant dinner party.
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