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Museum Tour (page 9) - Lenox Bust

One of the most transient periods in American History are those years following the First World War. Many things happened that changed the face of America as well as the world. Soldiers, returning from the battlefields of Europe, were disillusioned by the destruction they had witnessed. Industry and progress took on a more prominent role as automation and leisure time increased. In 1918, The Prohibition Act passed through a conservative federal legislature, despite President Wilson’s veto. Additionally, women won the right to vote in 1920. As a result of these and many other events, the “Roaring 20’s” emerged as a decade of scandal, overindulgence, and alienation.

It is during this decade that Lenox China produced this unique bust. This rare ivory porcelain piece features the sad and disillusioned gaze of an American flapper. Flappers were rebellious women who wore their boots unlaced. As a result of the noise their boots made when entering a room, these women became known as “flappers.” The lady who is the subject of this bust features the “bob” haircut. Fashionable flappers wore hairstyles, dresses, and jewelry that resembled fashionable Parisians. Another feature that is used to date this piece are the large, conspicuous earrings. The women of the 20’s often wore large showy jewelry in reaction to the more conservative fashions of the Victorian and Edwardian ages.

When looking at this unique Lenox piece, one must wonder about the saddened look that definitively besets the face. Although the 20’s were a decade defined by speakeasies, Jazz music, rebellious fashion, and loosened social norms, the jazz age came to an abrupt and unforeseen end. The stock market crash of ’29 set into motion a series of events that would lead to nearly three decades of American conservatism. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous writer who became the speaker for the youth of the 20’s, once said, “Everybody’s youth is but a dream, a form of chemical madness.” Just as Fitzgerald’s quote captures the disillusionment of a generation, so does this Lenox bust. Click here to read a interesting history of the Lenox company.

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