Three Flew Out of the Cuckoo's Nest

Tessa Murdoch, V&A Blog, July 9, 2018

A Chelsea porcelain masquerade snuffbox with the French inscription Je te connais beau masque (‘I recognize your handsome disguise’) glides out of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries into the V&A Madjeski Garden to enjoy the summer sunshine and refreshing pool. This mid-18th century Chelsea box takes a turn with an exceptionally rare German snuffbox made of tin-glazed earthenware. Very few of these were made as the heaviness of the body, the low status of earthenware and the fragility of the glaze, which chipped easily, made them ill-suited to the fashionable role of a snuffbox in gentleman’s pocket. Both are captured in colourful fantasy by artist Stephen Farthing whom I met this Spring at the opening of his Chichester exhibition ‘Museums of the World’.  In that show, as Charles Saumarez Smithexplained, Farthing ‘explored the complex relationship between works of art and their setting – the way work is displayed and how the systems of display, including the lighting, the seating, and the display cabinets condition the way works of art are viewed’...


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