The majority of The Domestic Fealty Collection came to our attention by chance within a large, anonymous donation, primarily of household furnishings. It is rumored to have been painstakingly collected by a well known connoisseur, but we currently have no documentation of this and cannot verify any claims of provenance. Other, similar artifacts were sought at auction to augment the understanding of the collection we have amassed for public edification and enjoyment today.
Research indicates that the pieces date from the mid 20th century, but because of the fragmentary nature of these commercially produced items, we can make no more accurate or authoritative identification at this time. Factory and painter’s marks may provide clues to origin, but are no guarantee, as many quality copies are known to have been made and marks forged.
The importance of this collection is manifold in our understanding of the aspirations of the period. The recognition of ‘fealty’ as key, was a significant breakthrough in our investigation and provides some clue to the aura of the collector as revealed in the collection. Truly a temporal meditation, there are also references in the collection iconography to genetic engineering, sexual politics, colonialism, nationalism, and as is evidenced specifically in its predominantly fragmentary nature, environmental responsibility. Although loss is indicative, the devotion with which the collection was assembled is evident. A question we continue to struggle with however, is the cost of this fealty and its value today.
The Hope Institute has produced this collection of faithful reproductions not as an appendage to The Domestic Fealty Collection, but as its current apogee. It is our hope that the Institute’s public may have the privilege of sharing in the wonder of this collection of miniatures through the purchase of reproductions of some, if not all of our souvenir cards. It is imagined that in the comfort of their own homes, they may gaze in intimate communion with these marvelous specimens of period ornamental naturalia and know something of those aspects of fealty that captured the spirit of the previous century. Proceeds from the purchase of these souvenir cards will be used to augment The Domestic Fealty Collection and ensure its survival in perpetuity.
A catalogue raisonné of The Domestic Fealty Collection is currently being compiled by myself in conjunction with eminent scholars in this area. References alluded to in this initial introduction will be fully available in the complete publication.
Curator’s notes: M. Rosa Chien M.F.A., K. Sueno
Hope Institute, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada.
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