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Shop until you drop in your favourite museum

16 December 2022

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The holiday season is upon us and, with it, the expectation that along with a celebratory feast comes festive presents. Rakewell always enjoys a good gift, so imagine our delight at the offerings from museums at this special time of the year.

Lewis Chessmen Chess Set, £235. www.britishmuseum.org

While the British Museum has earned itself a reputation for its replica models of ancient works (such as an Assyrian lion paper weight), Rakewell feels that its chess set made up of replica Lewis Chessmen has a certain allure. Nursing a snifter of brandy while playing chess like an ancient Norwegian feels like the perfect way to while away the long winter nights.

If you fancy making more of a statement (the Tate’s word, not ours), then why not invest in a Yayoi Kusama soft sculpture pumpkin? It will take a bold room to accommodate such a blinding shade of yellow, but Rakewell considers this a thing of delight, almost as delightful as that old faithful, the beanbag.

Yayoi Kusama large soft sculpture pumpkin, £350. www.tate.org.uk

Rakewell’s heart has been lifted by the excellently punning gift from the National Gallery with its leaf-shaped dish that appears to be made with, wait for it, gold leaf. It is, in fact, made from resin, but who are we to quibble with such a delightful ‘trinket dish’ (their words, not ours).

The shop to head to in search of splendour is, of course, the V&A’s. The highlight of its Christmas offerings is a limited-edition series of Wedgwood plates designed by Edmund de Waal. The four plates are called On the White Road, after de Waal’s book on the subject. Each plate alludes to a key moment in the history of porcelain (their words, not ours).

But our favourite of all the holiday offerings comes from MoMA. Who could resist its Modern Artist ornaments, nattily designed to improve any tree, its four figures alluding to, perhaps, Basquiat, Haring, Kusama and Lichtenstein. What more could a tree want?

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.