Under Glass: A Victorian Obsession

Collector John Whiteknight with a small part of his extensive collection of Victorian glass domes.

Collector John Whiteknight with a small part of his extensive collection of Victorian glass domes.

An Illustrated Lecture and Show and Tell with with Glass Parlor Dome Collector John Whiteknight
Date: Thursday, June 2nd
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Part of the Out of the Cabinet: Tales of Strange Objects and the People Who Love Them Series, presented by Morbid Anatomy and Morbid Anatomy Scholar in Residence Evan Michelson

A smoking monkey dressed as a Marquis, a Wild West scalping scene created in beeswax, a cemetery scene made from the deceased’s hair, and stuffed pug dog puppies, all under glass domes!!!!!

The bell jar, or glass parlor dome, is synonymous with our memory of the Victorian Age (1837 - 1901). During the 19th century, these blown glass forms were referred to not as domes but as shades, and graced nearly every parlor, protecting a broad variety of treasures-including miniature tableaux, waxworks, natural history specimens, taxidermy of exotic birds and pets, automatons, and delicate arrangements of hairwork, featherwork, and shellwork-from dust and curious fingers.

Tonight, join parlor dome collector, scholar and author of the upcoming book Under Glass, A Victorian Obsession John Whitenight as he shares treasured objects from his more than 30 years of collecting, traces the art and history of the parlor dome in an illustrated lecture, and muses on the peculiar allure of the glass parlor dome, that extraordinarily thin bubble of glass which is at once barrier and invitation, creating an enchanted world which teases the viewer by saying, “ look at me, study me and enjoy me, but do not touch.”

John Whitenight has collected antiques since he was a young boy. Along with his fever for collecting came a thirst for knowledge and a love affair with all things involving the Victorian era. Currently,his private collection consists of over 175 domes from four inches high to well over three feet high. As voracious for information as for new specimens, he has, over the years, become something of a scholar on domes and the various art forms beneath them. Feeling that this is an area that has been grossly overlooked in the study of 19th century decorative arts, Mr. Whitenight has decided it was time to put these wonderfully whimsical and eccentric Victorian concoctions into the spotlight where they belong; to this end, he is hard at work on a lavishly illustrated book on the topic entitled Under Glass, A Victorian Obsession.

Comments are closed.