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Happy Thanksgiving from American Art and the Renwick Gallery!
November 22, 2011

Turkey Platter

Dinner Platter (Hayes service), 1880, porcelain, made by Haviland & Co., Limoges, France, designed by 24. Theodore R. Davis, U.S. Government purchase, 1880, photo courtesy White House Historical Association

Here's one bird who knows how to strut his stuff. You can see why Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird. This tom's got attitude; even the sun rays in the background give him a kind of nobility. He's a rock star of the poultry world.

This porcelain platter was made for President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 by Haviland & Company, in Limoges, France. In addition to the finely rendered painting and details, I like the turned-up edges that bend like page corners and reveal gold and white painted on the other side.

The exhibition, Something of Splendor: Decorative Arts from the White House is filled with such goodies. If you're planning to be in DC for the holidays, the exhibition lets you get a behind-the-scenes look at how objects in the White House (the Renwick's neighbors, incidentally) arrived and were cared for. Add it to your DC to-do list! The exhibition remains on view through May 6, 2012.

Posted by Howard on November 22, 2011 in American Art Here


A turkey as the national bird, ay? Hardly as regal and glamorous as the bald eagle but I suppose it captures more of the nation's whimsy.

Big thanks to the Smithsonian for being a quirky curator of the visual arts and a refuge within the doldrums of political Washington!

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