Although born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Cruikshank is considered, along with Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray, to be one of the most important satirists of the Georgian period in England. There was a strong tradition in England of social satire and parody, beginning with William Hogarth earlier in the eighteenth century and extending under the pen of Cruikshank’s better-known son, George Cruikshank, well into the nineteenth century. Although many of Cruikshank’s satires are grounded in political events, this double-sided drawing depicting couples dancing falls into a group of drawings executed between 1790 and 1804 known as “drolls.”
Cruikshank spent years critiquing the social mores, fashion, and foibles of contemporary society, all of which are brought into play in the depictions of these dancers. Some of the figures here are self-consciously elegant, contrasting with others who are awkward or less attractive, such as the man who steps on the train of his partner’s dress. He was also involved in London theater, and the broad approach he takes in these caricatures, including grimaces and facial distortions, may derive from his knowledge of the stage. However satirical the specific depictions, Cruikshank has arrayed his couples with an eye to the flow inherent in dance.
Letters: G. Vertue del./W. Humphrey fec.t/George Vertue and Margaret his Wife, in the very Habits they were Married; Feby.. 17th.. Anno Domini 1720./ From the Original Drawing in the Collection of the R.. Hon.. Lord Cardiff. Inscription (in print): Geo. Vertue/ et Sponsaejus/ pinx. AD 1720/ Feb. 17
Inscribed at top and bottom of drawing, in black ink over pencil, apparently in Rosa's hand: The clouds very gray and indefinite the moutains blue and the fog above the bridge was gray in blue air. Number 54 painted by Joseph Rosa in 1763 near Rogen, in Austria.
Senufo helmet masks are the senior and most "dangerous" of Poro Society masks. Worn by the highest-ranking males, they embody supernatural powers and knowledge of magical formulae.
The southern Senufo, Fodonon group, use a baboon or antelope-baboon helmet mask called Gbôn. The most senior masquerader of the men's Poro Society (also called Pondo) wears it with a full raffia costume, grasping a long walking stick associated with women elders.
The Gbôn masquerade takes place during the final funeral ceremony of a male elder. Two Pondo society members approach the house of the deceased on their knees, in respect and submission. Rising, they lean on their walking sticks, shaking and trembling like very old people in reference to the many generations of ancestors. One of the maskers, shaking a long raffia sleeve, pretends to remove some of the thatch from the roof of the dead one's house. Since a house without a roof is no longer lived in, the deceased's life among them is finished, and his spirit should move on to the ancestral world. Afterwards, the Gbôn maskers leave upright, walking vigorously.
15 cm x 13.8 cm x 20.9 cm (5 7/8 in. x 5 7/16 in. x 8 1/4 in.)
Women fumigated their garments and rooms with fragrant incense regurlarly in ancient times. The chests are usually made of Paulownia wood and have drawers for storing incense. Incense burning was considered an important aspect of a lady's religious activities as well as her dressing process.
14.29 cm x 41.91 cm x 33.18 cm (5 5/8 in. x 16 1/2 in. x 13 1/16 in.)
Lacquer ware box with mother-of-pearl inlay decoration combining geometric patterns, flowers, dragons, and scepters.
A ryôshi-bako or document box holds important documents,
letters, or even writing utensils such as paper, brushes, and ink.
Gallery Rotations Fall 2012
Japan, Edo period
Black lacquer and abalone shell inlay on wood
Transfer from the College of Architecture and Design, 1972/2.108
A ryôshi-bako or document box holds important documents,
letters, or even writing utensils such as paper, brushes, and ink. The surface of this box is densely decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay decoration combining geometric patterns, flowers, dragons, and scepters. Since dragons are a Buddhist symbol of enlightenment and scepters are used in Buddhist rituals, it is
likely that this box once belonged to a Buddhist institution. Mother-of-pearl inlays also are frequently used in a Buddhist context in both Japan and Korea.
Lacquer ware from Japan and the Ryûkyû Islands
Lacquer, made from the sap of a type of of sumac (Rhus vernicifera), requires both skill and patience to apply. On a base material, usually wood, a thin layer is brushed on and allowed to dry completely before being polished with charcoal sticks; this process is repeated multiple times until a hard, smooth surface is achieved. Lacquer is not just aesthetically pleasing; it serves to protect and waterproof wood.
Lacquer ware and the technique for producing it were first transmitted from China to Japan during the sixth century, at the same time that Buddhism was introduced, and by the sixteenth century it was flourishing as one of the decorative arts favored by the military elite and wealthy merchant class. After the tenth century lacquer luxury objects were embellished with intricate decorations including carving, painting, engraving, inlay with metals, shells, or colored lacquers, and maki-e (meaning “sprinkled picture”), in which a design is painstakingly created with an application of gold powder.
Lacquer was introduced from China to its tributary kingdom of the Ryûkyû Islands (now modern Okinawa prefecture in southwestern Japan) in the fourteenth century by thirty-six families of shipbuilders sent there by the Ming (1368–1644) court. Used at first to waterproof ships, it soon flourished into a distinctive art. The Ryûkyû Islands produced lacquer ware densely adorned with gold engraving and mother-of-pearl inlay, in which high quality mollusk shells (such as abalones and oysters) were cut into different shapes and then laid on wet lacquer to form geometric patterns; when dry, the surface was polished to ensure a seamless appearance. Some of the best mother-of-pearl inlaid lacquer wares in East Asia were created by Ryûkyû Island artists.
The Japanese and Ryûkû Island lacquer wares in this gallery include selections from the renowned collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.