Artwork of the Week: September 27

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John Liddell for Mt. Washington Glass Works, Decanter

John Liddell (American, active 1880s) for Mt. Washington Glass Works, Decanter, blown ruby and opaque white glass, overlaid with looped, applied, and tooled decoration of colorless glass, about 1885. H. 19 11/16 in. Glass Pavilion, Gallery 3

A decanter such as this was created to serve as a centerpiece or presentation piece; it articulated the skill of the maker over functionality with its difficult-to-use bellow shape. Made by John Liddell for Mt. Washington Glass Works, this decanter has an unusual topper despite probably never actually being used to store liquid. The glass decorations added to the sides recall the features of an actual pair of fire bellows: they emulate the row of tacks that joined the wood boards and the leather sides. The same size as bellows used in late 19th-century households, this is one of the largest known bellows bottles still in existence.


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