Samuel Kirk (American, 1793–1872)
Object Place: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
217, Falino and Ward
20.7 x 18.5 x 13.5 cm (8 1/8 x 7 5/16 x 5 5/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Waleska Evans James Gallery (Gallery 236)
This pitcher has a seamed bulbous body with inset base. A deep V-spout with foliate decoration is set into the neck. Repousséd and chased landscapes and flowers surround the lower body. The flat conforming cover follows the upward curve of the spout and features repousséd and chased floral ornament. The cover is hinged to the top of the seamed, angular handle, which is decorated with applied stylized leaf grips and banded near the upper and lower joinings.
A jaunty-eared greyhound-head finial perches above a scene of a boy wandering under weeping willows near cottages, a brook, and a stone bridge. The opposite side of the body features buildings with Gothic arches and towers, some in ruins, that line the water’s edge. Curving acanthus leaves soften the seam joining the deep inset spout to the upper portion of the vessel. The finial is attached with a bolt and screw. The raised foot splays outward, and a repeating stamped decoration appears at the join with the foot ring.
The pitcher was formerly catalogued as a chocolate pot.
Samuel Kirk was perhaps the earliest American exponent of Europe’s new rage for the revival of the eighteenth-century Rococo style. From the beginning of his career, Kirk employed the technique of repousséd and chased foliate decoration characteristic of Rococo metalwork. Although some highly polished, plain surfaces remain on this pitcher, which was made early in Kirk’s career, ornament frequently covered the entire surface of his wares, which was known as “Baltimore-style” repoussé work (see cat. no. 218).
Kirk’s depictions of quaint country buildings and bridges, ruins of Gothic architecture, and children wandering through landscapes under trees and alongside brooks, as seen here, are derived from the romanticism of the mid-eighteenth century that found favor in Europe and America a century later. Sometimes referred to today as the “landscape” pattern, Kirk called it “Etruscan.”1 The wide traylike foot offers stability and adds to the decorative effect. Its flat polished surface and distinctive rippled edge reflect the shining brook pictured just above.
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.
"AKL" engraved in old English letters in a reserve below the spout. “Abbott and Katharine Lawrence 1844 22 oz 4 dwts” in script engraved inside applied foot ring.
"SAML KIRK / S K / 11.OZ" stamped in uppercase Roman letters in oblongs on the bottom.
Abbott and Katharine Lawrence, probably m. 1844; by descent through the Lamb family to sisters Aimée Lamb (1893 – 1989) and Rosamond Lamb (1898 – 1989), the donors.
Gift of Miss Aimée and Miss Rosamond Lamb