The Rhode Island School of Design, commonly referred to as RISD, has long been a part of our state’s history. Part university and part museum, it was established in 1877 by the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission with an objective to celebrate and study art, craftsmanship, creative thinking, and design from diverse cultures – something it still does to this day.

Like many museums, RISD’s collection grew from donations. Some donations came in the form of individual pieces, while others came in the form of entire estates. This is how RISD acquired the Corliss-Carrington House in 1936. A large, stately home built between 1810 and 1812 on College Hill in Providence, the home as a museum displayed period furnishings, artwork, and even antique toys for visiting children to play with. It is a remarkable property of the Federalist style and a testament to the rise of wealth and power in the post-revolutionary industrial era Rhode Island was very much a part of.

After WWII, the RISD Museum redirected its focus towards 20th century art. Thus, maintaining a historic property like the Corliss-Carrington House fell outside the scope of RISD’s core mission and they decided to sell the home in 1961. Many of the items once displayed there as part of the museum’s collection have been in storage for decades, but recently, RISD reached out to us about bringing their antique toys to auction. Needless to say, the toys from RISD and Carrington House collection are beautiful and well preserved! Highlights include an attributed Wilhelm Schimmel folk art dog and a circa 1880 G.A. Schwarz tin horse cart. The craftsmanship and detail on some of these pieces are incredible, and most are in excellent condition for their age. You can almost imagine what joy 19th century children must’ve felt when receiving these brightly colored ships, dolls, and animals – they were so high-tech back then!

Currently, the RISD Museum houses approximately 100,000 pieces, with approximately 2,000 on display at any given time. The collections come from around the world and include Ancient art, Asian art, contemporary art, costumes, textiles, decorative arts, painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, and photographs. Some of the more prolific artists and designers represented are Picasso, Monet, Manet, John Noble Barlow, Gilbert Stuart, Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, Paul Revere, Chanel, Goddard and Townsend, and more.

If you have never visited the RISD Museum of Art, I encourage you to take a trip to Providence and check it out. With such an amazing world-renowned museum so close to home, it would be a shame not to experience it!


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here