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Object Timeline

1934

  • Work on this object began.

2019

  • We acquired this object.

2022

  • You found it!

Napkin, Once in a While, 1934

This is a Napkin. It was designed by Marguerita Mergentime. It is dated 1934 and we acquired it in 2019. Its medium is linen. It is a part of the department.

The titles for these tablecloths were taken from American writer Gertrude Stein’s libretto for Four Saints in Three Acts with music composed by Virgil Thomson. Entirely cast with African-American performers, the opera was an artistic phenomenon. Mergentime very likely attended the premiere at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1934—the same year that these tablecloths were designed. The napkins could be folded in multiple ways to show off the different permutations within one pattern. The tablecloths, sold at B. Altman & Co. and Gimbels, received an honorable mention at the 1934 Industrial Arts Exposition sponsored by National Alliance of Art and Industry held at Rockefeller Plaza.

This object was donated by Virginia Bayer. It is credited Gift of Mergentime Family Archive.

Its dimensions are

L x W: 36.8 × 36.2 cm (14 1/2 × 14 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Napkin, Once in a While, 1934; Designed by Marguerita Mergentime ; linen; L x W: 36.8 × 36.2 cm (14 1/2 × 14 1/4 in.); Gift of Mergentime Family Archive; 2019-17-1

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318799201/ |title=Napkin, Once in a While, 1934 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=3 December 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>