Pair of salad servers

1902–1905
Frances Barnum Smith (worked about 1895–1904), Jane Carson Barron (born in 1879, worked in 1926)


Object Place: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Dimensions

6.67 x 17.78 cm (2 5/8 x 7 in.)

Accession Number

1994.224a-b

Medium or Technique

Silver with enamel decoration

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver flatware

Each serving utensil is composed of two overlapping sections soldered together. Each large shallow bowl, in the shape of a leaf, bears hammer marks and extends to a broad handle with V-shaped enameled panels displaying peacock feather designs. The bowl and handle section is soldered to a wider handle with cut-card design. Two pierced attenuated ovals flank a central enameled panel at the tip and lead downward to a narrow groove along each side of the handle. The enameled panel extends slightly beyond the handle tip; a supporting rectangular section has been soldered behind the enamel; the tines of the fork echo the shape of the bowl.


Women formed the majority of metalsmiths and enamelers during the Arts and Crafts period in America. Their activities paralleled that of many women who moved from the household sphere into the working world. The applied arts, in particular, were considered a socially acceptable focus for their energies, and for some it proved an avenue to financial independence.
Cleveland artists Frances Barnum and Jane Carson were exceptionally active in the field during the first decade of the twentieth century. Both attended school briefly in Boston. Barnum began her studies at the Cleveland School of Art (now the Cleveland Institute of Art), well known for its courses in the decorative arts, before continuing her education at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Carson attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School in the 1890s and the Museum School in 1900, participating in its exhibition in 1901.
In that year, the women jointly opened a workshop in Cleveland that became known for its jewelry and decorative desk, table, and toiletry accessories; in 1902 both joined the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, at the craftsman level. The brief but prolific activity that followed garnered them national recognition. At the 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exhibition, their efforts were recognized with a silver medal.
Shortly after Barnum married Arthur Lawrence Smith in 1904, her exhibition career seems to have ended. Carson, however, continued to work until her own marriage to Amos N. Barron, about 1910. Between 1904 and 1910, she sometimes collaborated with fellow Cleveland artist Mildred Watkins (1883 – 1968), who had previously worked with Carson and Barnum and, like them, had briefly studied in Boston. About 1904, she attended metalsmithing classes at the nearby Massachusetts Normal Art School (now the Massachusetts College of Art) taught by Laurin Hovey Martin before establishing a teaching career at the Cleveland School of Art.
Carson and Watkins participated together in the 1906 and 1907 Arts and Crafts exhibitions held by the Chicago Art Institute and in the 1907 Society of Arts and Crafts exhibition in Boston. That show included two pendants executed by them and designed by Amy Sacker (1876 – 1965), a Boston book artist with whom one or both women had studied. Their collaboration documents the continuing relationship between the Cleveland women and their Boston colleagues.
These serving pieces, small in scale and enlivened with colorful enameled panels, are typical of the workshop products of Barnum and Smith. They are just a few of the many surviving objects fashioned by these makers and may have been among those included in the 1904 or 1905 Cleveland Art Institute exhibition. A pair of silver and enamel salad servers priced at $40 was exhibited by Carson and Barnum in 1904; at the 1905 show they sold two pairs of servers for $45 each. Although Barnum exhibited under her married name in 1905, the women may have retained the “B” within a “C” maker’s mark for the works they sold that year.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

None.

Markings

“B” within a “C” monogram in sans-serif letters, all within a circle, and “STERLING” in sans-serif letters incuse, struck on back of each handle. Both marks are somewhat indistinct, doublestruck.

Provenance

Early history unknown; purchased in October 1994 from ARK Antiques, New Haven, Connecticut.

Credit Line

Gift of The Seminarians