Each year, The Met Store creates an annual star and snowflake ornament design inspired by a work of art from The Met collection. This enduring holiday tradition is beloved by many who collect these artistic keepsakes year after year. Indeed, it is a custom beloved by many Met staff—and we look forward each year to putting forth two unique new designs that celebrate 5,000 years of art.
Our 2018 Star Ornament adapts its geometric design from a carved, painted, and gilded pinewood ceiling, on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 459. Spanning a staggering 924 square feet, this exquisite artwork was purchased in Madrid by the American newspaper and media giant William Randolph Hearst, who generously gifted it to the Museum in 1956.
Made in Spain in the 16th century, the ceiling was created in the mudéjar style, a convention of architecture and decoration that emerged on the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th century and remained popular through the 17th century. Resulting from the Muslim influence on Christian design, the word mudéjar is derived from the Arabic word mudajjan meaning “tamed,” and originally referred to the moors, the Muslims who remained in the region following the Christian Reconquista.
In architecture, this cross-cultural style can be seen in decorative elements applied to elaborate tile and brick mosaics and floor inlays, wood carvings, plasterwork, and metal ornaments—all enhancing more traditional Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance structures. Incorporating influences from various styles of calligraphy, tiling patterns, and the use of geometric strapwork and vegetal forms from Islamic art, the elaborate mudéjar style was well developed in Spain by the time this ceiling was created.
The graphic mosaic-like design of this ceiling mirrors its construction. Made of 30 individual panels, which were then joined to create a cohesive work of art, this piece was originally intended for a smaller space than it now occupies, and was expanded at some point, lending an inconsistent pattern to the overall scheme.
Finished with ornate gilding and brilliant red and gray paint, this opulent wooden ceiling served as the stunning inspiration for this year’s star ornament, offering wishes of a luxurious holiday season.