Welcome to a joyous celebration of objects and imagery made in response to society’s love of wine! Created by Leslie B. Grigsby, Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass, this exhibition formerly was displayed in the Winterthur Galleries (April 28, 2012 to January 6, 2013) and is permanently available online. It features over 350 Winterthur collection objects and promised gifts and covers a broad range of media, from wine glasses and decanters to cellarettes and from hotel menus to song sheets and poetry. In this object-driven display, eye-catching and, often, humorous presentations enlighten the viewer on the roles of wine and the objects associated with it in the worlds of design, international trade, and social life in England and America during the 1600s through 1800s. The exhibition’s Winterthur focus is enhanced by new research drawn from the museum library’s wealth of period texts, manuscripts, and inventories.
The objects are organized around the following main themes:
Classical References highlights the connection between Greek and Roman wine vessels and deities and the design of later objects and ornamental motifs.
The Business of Wine considers how wine and associated items were bought and sold, illustrating some “tricks of the trade” by which unscrupulous merchants increased profit margins.
Consumption & Equipage examines vessels related to different types of wine, settings where beverages were consumed, and the part wine played in social life.
Politics, Patriotism & Taxes focuses on important political figures and events portrayed on wine-related objects.
Wine & Religion addresses vessels within an ecclesiastical context as well as domestic items that reference the church, prayers, and the activities of the clergy.
Temperance reveals the varied approaches to reducing drunkenness.
Although most objects in this exhibition illustrate Winterthur’s focus on collecting fine and decorative arts of the types made or used in America from 1640 to 1860, many surprises are also included. Such treasures enhance the story and provide a larger view of the world and its history.