Decorative Arts

Parachute Wedding Dress

Image of parachute wedding dress.

1982
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Nancy Batchelder Fryxell, 2013.77

Nancy Batchelder wore this dress when she married David Fryxell on May 1, 1982. It was made from her father's World War II silk parachute. Walter Batchelder was hospitalized and unable to attend his daughter’s wedding, so Nancy made the dress as a tribute to him and as a way of having her father represented on her big day.

Wax Figurines

Image of wax figurines of outstanding Illinois women.

c. 1920s
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Transfer from the Illinois State Historical Library,1970.28

These three wax figurines are representatives from a collection of 129 figurines depicting outstanding women in Illinois history. They were created by Minna Schmidt and donated to the Illinois State Historical Library in 1929. Harriet Sanger Pullman, left, was a socialite who supported hospitals, libraries, and schools. Julia Dent Grant, center, was the loving wife of Ulysses S. Grant. Elizabeth Byerly Bragdon, right, was a patron of music and the arts.

Beaded Flapper Dress

Image of beaded flapper dress.

1926
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Transfer from the University of Illinois,

This heavy, elaborately embellished dress comes straight out of Jazz Age Paris, where Anna King purchased it in 1926. Flapper dresses like these were specifically designed for dancing, as movement accentuates the dress.

Transfer Print Plate: Rochester Castle

Image of Rochester Castle transfer print plate, James and Roalph Clews Pottery, Staffordshire, England, 1815-1834.

James and Ralph Clews Pottery
Staffordshire, England
1815-1834

This plate was produced by James & Ralph Clews in Staffordshire. Their ceramics were commonplace on the American frontier. The image in the center of the plate is a distant view of Rochester Castle, on the River Medway, east of London. Portions of the castle date to the 11th century. English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted the castle in his work Rochester Castle From The River, painted circa 1793.

Baluster, Ohio Building

Image of baluster, Ohio Building, 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
In 1890, lead architect Daniel Burnham took on the impossible task of designing a model city in Jackson Park in Chicago for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the New World). The trouble was, architects and builders had just over two years to complete the monumental task. This baluster, recovered in archaeological excavations, is from a roof balustrade on the Ohio Building. The White City, as the collection of Fair buildings was known, was built to last as long as the fair (about six months).

“Palestine” Refined Earthenware Plate

Image of “Palestine” refined earthenware plate.
In the early 1800s, potteries in the Staffordshire region of England were becoming more and more dependent on the American market at a time when relations between the two nations were sliding towards war. In the months leading up to the War of 1812, trade was suspended, and a financial crisis ensued that, according to pottery owner Ralph Stevenson, left one-third of pottery workers unemployed and 35 businesses shuttered. His business had just opened in 1810.

Piano Cover

Image of piano cover.

1892
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Zella Lewis & Earl S. Ramseyer, 1989.073.0001

Around 1890, two enterprising teenaged girls from Owaneco, Ida Ramseyer and Laura Fry, came up with an ambitious plan: they would write to the wife of each state’s governor to request swatches of fabric from their ball gowns, then use those swatches to create a crazy quilt.

Tramp Art Radio Cabinet

Image of tramp art radio cabinet.

1911
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Gaylon Sprimont, 2011.134

In the winter of 1910-1911, a drifter named Charles Bosquet stopped at Julian Sprimont’s farmhouse in Will County and requested room and board for the winter. A deal was struck whereby Bosquet promised to create this large cabinet for Sprimont’s battery-operated radio in exchange for his stay. The two men went from tavern to tavern that winter collecting the wooden cigar boxes that Bosquet needed for his work.

Cotton Dress

Image of woman's cotton dress.

c. 1830
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Transfer from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2001.191.0001.0011

Figured cotton gowns such as this were very popular in the 1820s as the cotton economy boomed and advances in dyeing and printing technology made a wide variety of colors and patterns available to middle-class consumers. This dress was made from cotton that was likely grown by enslaved people in the American south, woven into cloth, dyed, and printed in the textile mills of New England or England, and then shipped to Illinois on an expanding network of railroads and steamships.

Parlor Chair

Image of parlor chair owned by former Governor Joel Matteson.

c. 1850-1855
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Dorothy Deneen Blow, 1951.21

This rosewood chair was rescued from a fire in former Governor Joel Matteson’s private residence in 1873. Built in 1855, Matteson’s Springfield mansion boasted nineteen rooms filled with elaborate furnishings and was considered “a marvel of architectural beauty” in its day. This chair, which was originally upholstered in brocatelle, likely sat in the oil-frescoed first parlor.

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