Pitcher (part of three-piece presentation set)

1855
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

34 x 19.2 x 15.7 cm (13 3/8 x 7 9/16 x 6 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

62.202

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised bulbous body sits on high molded foot with stamped beaded bands at the upper and lower rims. The curved cylindrical neck is finished with the same bead at its joint with the body. The high spout is finished with an applied flat band. The hollow scrolled handle rises slighty above the height of the spout. Elaborate chased foliate scrolls wrap almost back to the handle from a central cartouche under the spout emblazened with emblems of war, Massachusetts device, and inscription. Crossed banners, cannons and balls embellish the neck.


This three-piece libation set saluted Col. Isaac Hull Wright (1814 – 1886) in appreciation of his “eloquent argument” for the preservation of the voluntary militia. Wright was a popular and respected Bostonian whose wit and eloquence meant that he was in great demand as a public speaker. An honored veteran of the Mexican War, he had enlisted as a private in Company B, Massachusetts Volunteers. He was elected lieutenant colonel and later made colonel of the regiment. Gen. Zachary Taylor appointed Colonel Wright to be military governor of Monterrey and Perote after their capture by U.S. forces. After the war, President Taylor made Wright a naval officer of Boston. He subsequently commanded the Boston Light Dragoons and commanded, for one year, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.
As illustrated by this handsome service, Newell Harding & Co. provided custom-engraved presentation pieces (see also cat. nos. 205, 207). The style is generally conservative, related to the elegant Neoclassical shapes and smooth, polished surface popular earlier in the century. By contrast, the exuberant engraving encircling the body of the pitcher reflects the newer Rococo-revival style fashionable at midcentury.

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

"A Token / from the friends of the / Massachusetts / Volunteer Militia System / To / Colonel Isaac H. Wright / Rememorative of / his eloquent argument for the / perpetuation of the Institution / April 1855."

Markings

"N. HARDING & CO." incised in capital letters under the body.

Provenance

Col. Isaac Hull Wright (1814 – 1886) and Clementine G. Ballou (b. 1812) of New Hampshire, m. 1837; to their niece Florence Ballou Farrar (b. 1843), who was the daughter of Clementine’s sister Feducia Ballou and Abijah Farrer. Florence Ballou Farrar m. Frederick Henry Viaux (b. 1839) in 1873, and the pitcher descended to their daughter Florence Viaux (1878 – 1981) and her nephew Frederic Ballou Viaux, the donors.

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Florence Viaux and Frederic Ballou Viaux