Pitcher

1875
Tiffany & Co. (American, active 1837–present)


Object Place: New York, New York, United States

Dimensions

Overall: 21 x 10.6 x 9.5 cm, 0.28 kg, 0.28 (8 1/4 x 4 3/16 x 3 3/4 in., 0.62 lb., 276.4 gm)

Accession Number

77.61

Medium or Technique

Silver, copper

On View

Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

This silver vessel with copper inlay has a tapering quatrefoil cross section. An acute triangular spout interrupts the uppermost band, which is unadorned. The bottom has incised vertical ribs, intersected by a die-rolled band of stylized flowers. Alternating bands of silver with chased floral decorations and bands of copper inlaid with silver chevrons or circles terminate with a thin band of chased waves and stylized egg-and-dart molding just below the uppermost plain silver band. It has an applied foot and S-scroll hollow cast handle; the interior shows traces of gilding.


Acquired at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, this pitcher represents Tiffany’s new line of chromatically decorated silver utilizing mixed-metal techniques. It became the first piece of American silver to enter the Museum’s collection and distinguished the institution for its early interest in contemporary, as well as historic, art. Former Boston jeweler Gideon F. T. Reed, who was then a major shareholder in Tiffany & Co. and head of its Paris office, engaged Frank Hill Smith to select and acquire metalwork for the Museum from the Philadelphia fair. Despite an acknowledged conflict of interest, this pitcher became the first piece of Tiffany silver to enter a museum collection. And although the designer of this pitcher is unknown, a Tiffany drawing of this vessel, dated April 29, 1875, indicates that it was “pitcher no. 4065, [made from] four pieces, [with a] handle made of plate.”

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.

Markings

On base of vessel, stamped incuse "TIFFANY & CO. / 4665 MAKERS 5392 / STERLING-SILVER / 925 -1000 / M." "209" scratched below right of mark.

Provenance

1876, Purchased at Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, by Frank Hill Smith with funds provided by Gideon F.T. Reed

Credit Line

Gift of Gideon F. T. Reed