Pitcher

1859
Newell Harding & Co. (American, active 1851–1889), Newell Harding (1796–1862), Francis Low Harding (about 1851–1889), Alexander H. Lewis (American, 1815–1859), Lewis Kimball (American, active about 1851–1885)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

31 x 21 x 16.2 cm (12 3/16 x 8 1/4 x 6 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

54.512

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The seamed bulbous body is joined to a tall, concave neck by a band of shaped beading and sits on a cast foot. The scrolled handle rises above the upper rim and attaches to the widest part of the body. A beaded edge continues around the slightly angular applied lip. Engraved foliate ornament extends broadly over the surface of the body with a reserve opposite the handle.


This pitcher was presented to Ruth Ward in 1859, the year after the death of her husband Nahum. In 1854 she had received from Harding’s shop a silver cup bearing a similar inscription (cat. no. 205).
The energetic, bold, and glittering bright-cut engraving on this large, classically shaped pitcher covers nearly the entire body. Although the engraving appears to be by the same hand, it contrasts sharply with the loose, exuberant style of the engraving on the cup given to Mrs. Ward five years earlier; it also differs greatly from the subtle effect of the fine, delicate chasing of Harding & Co.’s presentation ewer for Colonel Wright (cat. no. 206), dated about the same time. The sweeping scrolls of floral and foliate motifs gradually narrow as they approach the handle, and mannered vertical tendrils extend below the lower foliage.
Because of the widespread popularity of domestic silver presentation gifts, larger retailers probably maintained an inventory of wares, either of their own or others’ manufacture, ready to be engraved or further embellished at the customer’s behest. Without additional elaborate and expensive handmade decoration, this seamed pitcher may have been a less costly stock item.

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

Engraved "Mrs N Ward / Roxbury / 1859" in script wihin a reserve surrounded by foliate engraving on the body under the spout of the pitcher.

Markings

"NEWELL HARDING & CO." and "BOSTON" in uppercase Roman lettering and "Coin" in upper and lowercase gothic lettering all struck incuse on the bottom. A second stamp of "Coin" has been effaced

Provenance

In 1859, the year following her husband's death, this water pitcher was presented to Ruth Ward, formally inscribed to her as "Mrs. N. Ward." In 1854 Mrs. Ward had received a silver cup from Harding's shop inscribed in the same manner (see 54.513 for Ward family history). By descent in the family until its presentation to the Museum in 1954.

Credit Line

Gift of Mabel Gurney Clark and F. Lyman Clark in memory of their mother, Susan Ward Clark