Wax Fruit and Dessert Arrangement

Artist/maker unknown, American

Geography:
Made in United States, North and Central America

Date:
c. 1860-1880

Medium:
Beeswax, paraffin, tempera, glass, wood

Dimensions:
Height: 19 inches (48.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 117, American Art, first floor

Accession Number:
2002-123-1

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of John Whitenight and Frederick LaValley, 2002

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Label:

From the 1860s to the 1880s, young American women with even the smallest surfeit of time eagerly pursued the art of making wax fruit and flowers. The colorful arrangements were contained under glass domes, which decorated the most stylish home interiors.

The fine state of preservation of this wax fruit and dessert arrangement reveals the vibrant colors that distinguished wax parlor art.

Additional information:
  • PublicationGifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    From the 1860s to the 1880s, young American women with even the smallest surfeit of time eagerly pursued the art of making wax fruit and flowers. The colorful arrangements were contained under glass domes, which decorated the most stylish home interiors. All twelve issues of the 1856 volume of Godey’s Lady’s Book featured instructions for fashioning wax parlor art; they explained everything from how to make the plaster of Paris molds to how to paint wilted, bruised, and over-ripened areas of the fruits and flowers for a more realistic effect.

    The fine state of preservation of this wax fruit and dessert arrangement reveals the vibrant colors that distinguished wax parlor art. The encasement was made by a specialist whose name is stenciled on the bottom of the wooden base: “John N. Beath, Glass Shades, Wax Flower and Artist Materials. 2100 Frankford Ave. Phila.” Alexandra Kirtley, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 62.


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