Find plenty of inspiration for next year’s holiday decorating in Antique Christmas, the Taft Museum of Art’s seasonal display of antique ornaments, toys and decorations from private collections. Even before you see the first tree, you’ll be captivated by a winter scene with a covered bridge; a Noah’s Ark surrounded by its toy animal passengers; a village of miniature houses from the Erzgebirge in Germany; and a huge German Nativity pyramid from 1890.
Spot the work of some familiar artists in a display of Christmas-themed calendars, as well as seasonal covers of magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post and McCall’s. All date from the 1880s through the 1930s, the years during which Charles and Anna Sinton Taft lived in this house. Then walk down the hallway, turn right, and behold this fabulous pink feather tree trimmed with pink ornaments!
Amid Robert Duncanson’s magnificent murals in the entrance hall, a white feather tree loaded with icicles and topped with a blue tinsel star is surrounded by scenes from Christmas Eve in Cincinnati. Glass deer pose in a forest of fir trees, while last-minute shopping takes place in a miniature store.
A Civil War-era Christmas tree is adorned with strings of wooden cranberries, preserved orange slices, and gilded Springerles. The designs on these German Christmas cookies are made by pressing rolled dough into a hand-carved wooden mold; drying the dough for 24 hours before baking preserves the detail of the impression.
Before you leave, stop by the museum’s gift shop to see amazing figures of spun cotton, a technique used by German artisans for making holiday ornaments, handmade by Vintage by Crystal.
Antique Christmas is on view at the Taft Museum through January 5, 2014; the display of magazine covers and calendars will continue through January 19. Let me know what’s your favorite decoration from Antique Christmas!