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Window Shade, Hawaii

This is a Window shade. It was created by Unknown. It is dated 1938–39 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is hand painted on canvas. It is a part of the Wallcoverings department.

This is one of six window shades created for the theater in the Hollywood Wing of Duke Farms in New Jersey. The original house, which dates to 1893, was the home of James Buchanan Duke, an industrialist who made his fortune in tobacco and hydroelectric power. Duke gained a competitive edge by being the first person to successfully use machines to roll cigarettes. The Hollywood Wing (1938–39) was added by his daughter, Doris Duke.
The theater was designed by Thomas White Lamb, one of the foremost theater and cinema architects of the late 19th and early 20th century. Lamb designed many of the best-known theaters in New York City, including the Ziegfeld Theater (1927), Madison Square Garden (1925), and the Academy of Music (later the Palladium Theatre) (1927).
The window shades are hand painted on canvas and rendered in art deco and cubist styles. The six shades illustrate the themes of music and dance. Each shade contains a central figure that represents a different country or region: Africa, China, Mexico, Russia, and Switzerland. Each of the figures is surrounded by elements of folk tradition mixed with historic elements specific to that country or region. This portrayal of the different regions is inspired by the classic four continents theme, which includes Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum’s collection of window shades dates from the mid- to late 19th century and encompasses a wide variety of materials and techniques. Significant examples include four late 19th-century Chinese panels hand painted on silk, and a souvenir shade from the New York Crystal Palace (1853). These six wonderfully-crafted shades reflect interior design trends of the period and would bring our existing collection of window shades into the 20th century.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Dance, Surf and Poi: A Hawaii Shade.

It is credited Gift of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

  • Overdoor (France)
  • block-printed on handmade paper.
  • Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.
  • 1931-45-76

Its dimensions are

L x W: 518.2 x 162.6 cm (17 ft. x 5 ft. 4 in.)

Cite this object as

Window Shade, Hawaii; Unknown; hand painted on canvas; L x W: 518.2 x 162.6 cm (17 ft. x 5 ft. 4 in.); Gift of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; 2009-17-3

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Window Shade, Hawaii |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>