16th Annual Mays Symposium: From the Opulent to the Mundane: Design and the Decorative Arts

Saturday, February 2, 2013
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Special Events

Join our distinguished speakers as they explore the tradition of ornament from Renaissance interiors recalling ancient Greek and baroque architecture to the anti-classical inspirations of curving rococo and chinoiserie to twenty-first century design interests.


Ornament: A Social History Since 1450
Michael Snodin

Director, The Strawberry Hill Trust; Former Head of Design in the V&A’s Word and Image Department; Senior Curator of the V&A/RIBA Architecture Partnership, Richmond, Surrey, UK; author: Ornament: A Social History Since 1450 (1996); Design & the Decorative Arts: Britain, 1500-1900 (with John Styles, 2004)

Rococo: The Continuing Curve
Sarah D. Coffin, MA

Curator of 17th and 18th Century Decorative Arts; Head of Product Design and Decorative Arts Department, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, NY; author Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008 (2008)

‘Upstairs, downstairs, In My Lady’s Chamber’: Early American Decorative Arts in Context
Elisabeth Donaghy Garrett Widmer MA

Independent lecturer, author, curator, Newberryport, MA; former head Sotheby’s American Art Course Masters program; former senior vice-president Christie’s New York, Director Classes in Connoisseurship; author: At Home: The American Family 1750-1870 (1990)

Enchanting Machines: Clockwork, China, and the European Vision of the East
Catherine Pagani, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Art and Art History, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL; author: Eastern Magnificance and European Ingenuity: Clocks of Late Imperial China (2001); First Emperor Of China (with R.W.L. Guisso and David Miller, 1991)



“Man is not only a passive, sensory recipient, but also a desiring, active being who wishes to interpret the world in such a way (varying from one people, region, or epoch to another) that it most clearly and obligingly meets his desires. “

Alois Riegl (Stilfragen, 1893)

This is the sixteenth in a series of decorative arts symposia underwritten by the Mays Family Foundation.

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