Furniture & Decorative Arts

The University of Pennsylvania Art Collection includes clocks, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and other decorative arts. One of the most celebrated objects within this category is an Orrery made by David Rittenhouse in the 1770s. This remarkable device serves as a mechanical model of the solar system, including the movement of the planets and their satellites. The collection includes many wonderful pieces of handcrafted furniture, including 18th and 19th century desks, chairs, and clock cases. A significant modern example is a table made for Theodore Dreiser by Wharton Esherick. This sculptural table exhibits the Cubist-inspired faceted angles that Esherick often incorporated into his work.

Wedgwood, the celebrated British ceramic manufacturer, produced two series of commemorative dishes for Penn. A service made in 1929 is decorated in blue and white with vignettes of University buildings, while a service made in 1939 for the University bicentennial features red transfer-printed designs on a white background with molded laurel leaves and medallions.

Individual Works