Happy Earth Day! While we are celebrating 50 years of the official holiday, people in Annapolis and across the globe were appreciating nature long before now. Here at the William Paca House, you can see several objects that draw their inspiration from the beauty of the earth.
The garniture (glossary time - garniture is a set of decorative accessories, in particular, vases) that graces the mantel in the Paca House Dining Room were made in China and date to the late 18th century. These gorgeous vases feature the Famille Rose pattern, a lovely design with peonies and birds.
Also in the Dining Room, the carpet with this pretty flower design is a Brussels weave reproduction carpet. The design is based on an 18th century carpet found in Blickling Hall, England (treasure hunt - can you find the original carpet as you walk through their virtual tour?)
Here are another two nature-inspired pieces from the HA collection. The bowl on the left is from Worcester, England, made between 1755 and 1783 and made from soft-paste porcelain. On the right is a porcelain tea cup; this delicate cup was made in China and dates to the 18th century.
But what about the actual great outdoors? Nowadays, you probably use social media to find your garden inspiration - Pinterest boards, anyone? - but in the 18th century, people like William Paca referred to encyclopedic books, such as this 1737 gardening dictionary in our collection:
And talk about a whopper of a title: The Gardeners Dictionary: Containing the Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen, Fruit and Flower Garden, as Also the Physick Garden, Wilderness, Conservatory, and Vineyard.
If you think this might spark inspiration, you can actually read the book for free on Google Books - click here!
While there were certainly practical advantages to a well-cultivated kitchen and physic garden, having a well-kept garden - like the Pacas' 2-acre pleasure garden - was an indication of wealth and genteel pursuits - the hobby was really only afforded to those who had the time to do it. But the Pacas were certainly lucky to have this special oasis in the middle of the bustling city where they could connect with nature - one we hope they appreciated even 200 years before Earth Day was a global celebration.
Robin Matty Curator of Collections