The Victorian era produced an unprecedented quantity of decorative crapola for the household. The golden rule of interior decoration was “if you can see an empty space, then clearly you need another tchotchke.” (I paraphrase.) Rich and poor alike demanded objets d’art – the only problem being, the less money one has to spend, the less d’art one can afford. The resulting struggle between Quality and Quantity (personified by mythological Greek goddesses, in the approved Victorian manner) resulted in Quality getting bonked on the head and stuffed in an alley while Quantity ran rampant through lower-class neighborhoods tossing flashy but bizarre objects through windows, where they landed on parlor tables, étagères, and mantels. Take this shoe, for instance – I suppose a petite porcelain model of a shoe might be quaint, especially if finished with a striking lustre hue. But reason stops there. Why are there embossed flowers and beads twining around it? Why add a painted scene of Egyptian monuments? And why would you want to stick flowers in such an ungraceful thing? Because, yes – it really was manufactured to be a vase.