Clemens Friedell (American, 1872–1963)
Place Depicted: Pasadena, California; Object Place: Pasadena, California
Other: 36.2 x 45.1 cm (14 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)
The large hand-raised vessel has a trumped foot soldered to a broad bowl with an everted riom. Both the rim and the foot have a meandering scalloped edge rienfored wtih an applied flat exterior rim. Repoused and chased floral decoration throughout features California poppies and trailing vines. A chased depiction of a polo player on horseback appears below the presentation incription; the other reserve is flanke by mallets and penants.
One of a handful of independent California metalsmiths working during the Arts and Crafts period, Clemens Friedell practiced a lyrical form of silversmithing that retained elements of an Art Nouveau style. Born near New Orleans, Louisiana, Friedell was taken as a child to Vienna by his Austrian-born parents. There, he apprenticed to a Viennese silversmith for seven years, returning to the United States in 1892, at the age of twenty. Friedell did not find employment as a silversmith, however, until he was hired as a chaser for the Gorham Manufacturing Company, where he worked from 1901 to 1908. As a member of Gorham’s most elite circle of craftsmen, he was probably assigned the task of chasing the company’s Art Nouveau style Martele line, among other deigns. These experiences influenced Friedell’s later work, which was characterized by similarly undulating forms and unplanished hammer marks. He also favored floral decoration, often of repoussed flowers native to California, his home after 1911.
After leaving Gorham, Friedell settled in the resort town of Pasadena, where he found a ready clientele among local society figures and wealthy Easterners who flocked there each winter. Friedell’s first major client was likely the philanthropist Phoebe Hearst (1842-1919), for whom he created a monumental loving cup in 1912. That the silversmith was capable of producing work in quantity and large scale is well demonstrated by the dining service he executed that year for LA brewer E R Maier. The service consisted of eighteen settings, numerous serving vessels, and a 20 inch tall centerpiece.
In Pasadena, Friedell benefited from a steady demand for presentation silver, particularly in the form of trophies, ordered by the many sporting clubs active in the region as well as by the Tournament of Roses, which took place each December. The annual celebration, established in 1890 to promote the city as a winter destination, originally featured society events, a parade of flower decked carriages, tugs of war, and ostrich races. It included football and other athletic events, including polo, which had been introduced on American soil in 1876 and whose popularity increased by the turn of the century. For the region’s polo players and horsemen, Friedell created such trophies as this punch bowl, as well as shield shaped equestrian portraits mounted on wooden plaques.
This presentation punch bowl, called the Hogan Challenge, was awarded by the Pasadena Polo Club about 1912-13. Friedell merged the Art Nouveau style of decoration in to and Arts and Crafts aesthetic that incorporated regional interests, such as California poppies, and a visibly hammered appearance. Like Arthur Stone, who operated a larger workshop, Friedell exerted similar control over silver produced in his shop. His chief contribution was as a designer and chaser; he maintained an assistant who did most of the raising of the heavy gauge sheets. Although Friedell did not exhibit widely, he received a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition at San Diego, where he exhibited a large punch bowl (possibly this example), equestrian plaques, and coffee sets. Friedell continued to fashion work in a similar style for clientele through the Great Depression. As Pasadena waned as a playground for the rich, however, he produced more domestic items rather than the ambitious loving cups and other trophy forms that had dominated his early career. By eh 1930s and 40s he offered stock items in his store, a departure from previous years when the carriage trade had provided him with the luxury of creating bespoke silver. Friedell prospered far into the modern era by adapting to changing times. He maintained an active shop until sometime before his death in 1963.
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.
"POLO / CHALLENGE TROPHY [in repoussed Art Nouveau-style lettering] / PRESENTED BY [engraved capitals] / WILLIAM J. AND FRANK G. HOGAN [repouseed lettering] / PASADENA / CAL [engraved]" inscribed on one side of vessel. "WON / BY [in repoussed lettering]" above a blank reserve on other side
"STERLING / HAND CHASED BY / CLEMENS FRIEDELL / PASADENA" engraved on edge of foot. "STERLING / HAND CHASED BY / CLEMENS FRIEDELL / PASADENA / CAL." struck in reverse on isde of bowl.
Made about 1912 as the Hogan Challenge Polo Trophy, Pasadena, California, and awarded, in all likelihood, to Frank Braun. Probably the "huge punch bowl" exhibited by Friedell at the Panama-California Exhibition in San Diego in 1915. Consigned to a recent Los Angeles auction by Braun's granddaughter, and acquired there by the dealer, Argentum Antiques, San Francisco, California. Exhibited at the Philadelphia Antiques Show, April 2003.
Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously, and from Shirley and Walter Amory, John and Catherine Coolidge Lastavica, H.E. Bolles Fund, Michaelson Family Trust, James G. Hinkle, Jr. and Roy Hammer, Robert Rosenberg, Sue Schenck, Grace and Floyd Lee Bell Fund, and Miklos Toth