Elias Pelletreau (American, 1726–1810)
Object Place: Southhampton, Long Island, New York
Overall: 17.6 x 12.7 x 24.1 cm (6 15/16 x 5 x 9 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)
The inverted pear-style teapot has a molded and splayed foot with applied foot rim. The tall domed lid with air hole near finial has an inset three-part hinge. The broadly scalloped cast spout has prominent leafage on its retracted lip. The leafy upper socket, with side scroll and slender lower socket, is pinned into circular wooden handles, and both are scored at edge. Scalloped and foliated engraved decoration, interspersed with four lozenge-shaped elements, appears around the shoulder. The cast and chased finial is slightly tipped. The handle is replaced; a repair was made to the hinge and possibly another on the side, to right of handle.
Information about Elias Pelletreau is particularly abundant due to the survival of his account books and shop in Southampton. Of French Huguenot descent, Pelletreau was apprenticed to Simeon Soumaine of New York. His indenture of apprenticeship survives, proving a seven-year term of service beginning in January 1741. Following that, Pelletreau remained in New York City, where he became a freeman in 1750. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Southampton, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life, except briefly during the American Revolution, when he relocated to Connecticut.
Pelletreau’s account books record orders for at least seventeen teapots. Despite the large number, few survive. One recently discovered example, whose appearance is identical to this one, was made by the silversmith for his own use and later given to his daughter Jane, probably upon her marriage to Judge Pliny Hillyer of Simsbury, Connecticut. Aside from these two teapots, only two others are known.
The delicate engraving around the shoulder of this otherwise unadorned vessel is in keeping with the plainer style that Pelletreau and his clients apparently preferred. However, the finely cast and finished spout and sockets, as well as the unusually large chased finial, evoke the prevalent Rococo style.
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.
Engraved "H/ I*C" on base above mark.
Marked "EP" on base over center point within a square in raised roman letters.
Ada Mark * F3832
Original owner unknown. Inherited by the donor from his mother, Constance V. R. Dexter, on February 17, 1976, and later made a gift to the museum.
Gift of Nathaniel T. Dexter