Go to Winterthur to see tinware objects with lively, bright colors and hand painted with fruit, flowers, birds, and borders were once ubiquitous in the young United States. At first glance, it may look like amateur artwork, but this exhibition examines the professional and practical roots of a material that is still produced by artists today.
The story of antique tinware may be surprising. Useful household objects were created by tinsmiths for myriad home and work purposes, such as to keep paperwork or tobacco dry and safe, to hold dry or liquid cooking ingredients, or to support a candle for light. Tinware objects that survived were often decorated ones, although, unpainted, shiny white tinware once was even more prevalent. American painted tinware has origins in an industry that emerged in the late 1690s in Britain with artistic influences coming from lands as far away as China and Japan.