• This selection features works of art from the MFA’s collection of more than 13,000 examples of American decorative arts and sculpture ranging in date from the seventeenth century to the present and in origin from North America to South America. Representing vernacular as well as high-style traditions, the group provides a brief introduction to the broad panorama of furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, metalwork, and sculpture made in the Americas across both time and place.

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  • Chest of drawers

    1640–70
    Attributed to Ralph Mason and Henry Messinger Shops (Mason (1599–1678/79); Messinger (died in 1681)), Turnings attributed to Thomas Edsall (American, born in England, 1588–1676)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Perhaps the earliest example of Boston furniture in the Museum’s collection, this is a full-fledged chest of drawers, an innovative form rarely made in America before 1690. Exotic tropical hardwoods in its construction and decoration include ebony for the turned spindles in the upper case and cedrela (and local black walnut) for the facade and sides of the upper and lower cases. The use of woods imported from far away reflects the participation of Boston’s craftsmen in international trade as early as the mid-seventeenth century.

    Inscription

    Top right drawer inscribed: "J Murray, A [?] Murray, Michael [?] Murray" Drawers numbered on bottom.

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; lent by Charles H. Tyler, October 3, 1928, and made part of his bequest in 1932 (Accession Date September 1, 1932).

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 38

    Dimensions

    130.2 x 119.9 x 58.6 cm (51 1/4 x 47 3/16 x 23 1/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.219

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, cedrela (Cedrela odorata), black walnut, cedar, ebony

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Beaker

    tunn

    1659
    John Hull (American (born in England), 1624–1683), and Robert Sanderson, Sr. (American (born in England), 1608–1693)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The raised, short, cylindrical form with a flat bottom flares slightly at lip; the center point is evident on the base. A broad lightly hatched field encircling the beaker is contained between two scribed lines placed 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) from lip and base. A shield-shaped device descends from upper scored line.


    In the seventeenth century, beakers of this type were occasionally referred to as “tunns,” a term possibly of Celtic origin. Defined as a large cask for holding wine or beer, the word also described a large barrel or unit of liquid capacity. It was used as early as 1555 to refer to a vessel that was no doubt derived from such utilitarian objects. The tunn was an appropriately humble and secular choice for the Congregational communion table, far removed from the rich trappings of the Church of Rome.
    As with the taller Dutch-style beakers made by Hull and Sanderson that Albert Roe termed “curious hybrids” inspired by Sanderson’s native Norwich, so, too, these small beakers (or tunns) have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from their English counterparts. In its short and stocky appearance, the tunn is similar to, but slightly larger than, most related English beakers. Relatively straight sides and the lack of a foot also set this example apart from contemporaneous English examples, as does its chaste, finely punched surface, which serves as primary decoration while providing a secure grip. The source for the matte decoration may be the English wine cup among the First Church plate given by Jeremy Houchin, who arrived in the colony in 1635 and died in 1670.
    The tunn most closely related to the Museum’s example in both date and form is also the earliest piece of colonial silver made for the church; it bears the single touchmark of John Hull. Hull and Sanderson also made two cups for the First Church of Dorchester and a fifth for Old South Church. These bear punched pattern in a broad field but lack the scored lines that mark the upper and lower border and the shield reserve, as seen on those of the First Church. Another beaker, now unlocated and known only through a period photograph, appears to be closely related to the First Church examples.

    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

    The faintly pricked inscirption "T / B * C / 1659" appears within a shield shape on side of beaker.

    Markings

    Marked on base with touch "IH" within a square, surmounted by a shaped reserve with four clustered shapes. The second mark is to the right of the Hull touchmark, "RS" within a circle, surmounted by a radiant sun within a shaped device.

    Provenance

    Made for the First Church, Boston; 1906, lent by the First Church to the MFA; 1906, returned; 1910, re-lent; 1970, the First Church merged with the Second Church to become the First and Second Church, Boston; 1999, purchased from the church by the MFA. (Accession date: June 23, 1999)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously in honor of Jonathan L. Fairbanks

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 9.9 x 9.3 cm, 0.19 kg (3 7/8 x 3 11/16 in., 0.42 lb.)

    Accession Number

    1999.90

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Wine cup

    1660–80
    John Hull (American (born in England), 1624–1683), and Robert Sanderson, Sr. (American (born in England), 1608–1693)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The raised straight-sided bowl opens outward from its base toward a flaring lip. A strengthening disk has been applied to the base. Some repair continues below to the first of two reel-shaped elements that form the top of the stem. The central baluster is in the shape of an inverted egg; below is a cast floral design with petals and beads. At the base, the baluster is soldered to a splayed foot with an applied, stepped ring at its perimeter.


    This vessel is the most impressive of the wine cups by Hull and Sanderson that embody Mannerist elements then on the wane in England. The bowl has a wide rim that extends beyond the perimeter of the foot, and its stem, with inverted egg-shaped knop, adds to the unstable feeling. The cast beaded collar and petals below the knop have technical and aesthetic merit that is absent in the other cups.
    The cast decoration emulates an English vessel marked “T. G.,” also in the First Church communion service, that was given by Jeremy Houchin between 1635, the time of his arrival in the colony, and his death in 1670. This is the second time that Houchin’s cup may have served as a model for Hull and Sanderson, who probably knew of its matte punched surface when fashioning their tunns (cat. no. 70). The delicately pricked initials of the owner, The Boston Church, within a cloud of foliate ornamentation are a more elaborate version of those found on a cup that the partners made for Richard and Alice Brackett of the Braintree Church.

    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

    Below the rim, a pricked decoration in a foliated trefoil design contains the letters "T / B C." To the [viewer's] right of this design is the semi-script inscription "The Gift of A Freinde T * C."

    Markings

    Below the rim are two closely spaced marks; the first "IH" with a pellets above, all within a shield in the shape of a square surmounted by a circle, and the second, "RS" flanked by pellets with a partly effaced radiant sun above. Lower portion of mark is rounded at base, and incomplete above.1 1 Both marks compare favorably to Kane 1987, figs. 6a and 9a.

    Provenance

    Made for the First Church, Boston; 1906, lent by the First Church to the MFA; 1906, returned; 1910, re-lent; 1970, the First Church merged with the Second Church to become the First and Second Church, Boston; 1999, purchased from the church by the MFA. (Accession date: June 23, 1999)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously in honor of Jonathan L. Fairbanks

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 20.3 x 11.4 cm, 0.4 kg (8 x 4 1/2 in., 0.88 lb.)

    Accession Number

    1999.91

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Leather great chair

    1665–80

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Armchair (upholstered)


    In seventeenth-century New England, the upholsterer’s craft was a luxury trade that, like silversmithing, was principally confined to Boston and, to a lesser extent, Salem. Miraculously, this “great chair” (a period term for armchair) retains both its original Russia leather upholstery secured with brass tacks and its original upholstery foundation of linen webbing, linen sackcloth, and stuffing of spike grass (Distichlis spicata) harvested from the tidal salt marshes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. (Early photographs show the chair upholstered with a nineteenth-century black oilcloth, which probably inadvertently enabled the preservation of the original materials.) The design of the chair calls for a large down-filled squab, or cushion (a modern reproduction is shown here), both to provide comfort for the sitter and to visually fill the large void between the seat and the high back.

    In keeping with its status as a luxury product, the chair was owned originally by Dr. Zerubbabel Endicott of Salem, Massachusetts, a well-known surgeon and son of John Endicott, who served as deputy governor and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at various times in the 1640s, 1650s, and 1660s. It is probably one of a set of two great chairs and six side chairs listed in Zerubbabel’s estate inventory. Although the chair has been attributed to a Boston shop for many years, recent research suggests that it was probably made in Salem.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Probably Dr. Zerubabbel Endicott I (1635?-1683) to his daughter Sarah Endicott (b. 1673?), married Samuel Hart (1656-1730) to their son, Jonathan Hart (1710-1768?), to Abigail Hart (1743-1828), married Amos Smith (1724-1798), to their daughter, Nabby Smith (1765-1849), married Ebenezer Parsons I (1762-1843), to their son, Ebenezer Parsons II, married Mary Hart (1792-1864), to their son, Ebenezer Parsons III, to Starr Parsons (1869-1948), to Eben Parsons (1896-1969). Sold to Helen W. Jacques in the 1940's. Museum purchase, Sale, Chester Twiss Auctioneer, Estate of Helen W. Jaques, Wenham, Massachusetts, 26-28 July, 1977.

    Credit Line

    Seth K. Sweetser Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 96.5 x 60 x 41.6 cm (38 x 23 5/8 x 16 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1977.711

    Medium or Technique

    Oak; maple; original upholstery foundation of linen webbing, linen sackcloth, and grass; leather cover; brass nails

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Chest of drawers with doors

    1670–1700

    Object Place: New Haven, Connecticut

    Description

    The inlaid checkerboard and sawtooth motifs; applied, decorative spindles with unusual acorn caps; and frieze glyphs (small, applied ornaments seen on the upper section, between the drawers, and on the sides) also are found on cupboards and chests from the New Haven colony. Probably made by London-trained craftsmen, these objects exhibit an economical use of materials. This may reflect the “wood famine mentality” that permeated the thinking of English craftsmen, faced with a shortage of timber since Elizabethan times. Although lumber was plentiful in America, some craftsmen retained the frugal practices learned in their training.

    Provenance

    Purchased at Christie's auction house, New York, June 24-25, 1980, lot 725 (Accession Date August 26, 1980)

    Credit Line

    Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    92.39 x 112.71 x 57.78 cm (36 3/8 x 44 3/8 x 22 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1980.274

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, walnut, cedar, pine

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Salver

    about 1680–90
    Timothy Dwight (1664–1691 or 1692)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Broad-rimmed plate on trumpet foot. Engraved with elaborate design of flowers & animals


    Dwight, who apprenticed with Hull and Sanderson, died at the age of thirty-eight from “a sore and languishing sickness.” One of only two surviving objects bearing his mark, this salver also is distinguished by its beautifully engraved border, with a camel, lion, elephant, and unicorn separated by scrolling leaves and carnations. The identity of the engraver may have been Dwight or an unidentified specialist. The engraving’s source is a type of naturalistic floral ornament used in Germany as early as 1650 and brought to the New World through immigrant craftsmen and transported prints.

    Inscription

    Initials TMB over prickwork design, script RP on bottom

    Markings

    TD six pellets below in rose form in heart shaped punch on rim

    Provenance

    Possibly made for Mary and Thomas Barton (1). (2) By descent to Sally Pickman Loring Dwight (1859-1913); May 5, 1916 lent by the Estate of Sally Pickman Dwight; May 17, 1918, transferred to the estate of their son Lawrence Dwight (1896-1918); June 28, 1918, returned to estate of Lawrence Dwight; by descent to his cousin; March 17, 1920, lent by Mrs. Dudley Leavitt Pickman to MFA; 1931, gift of Mr and Mrs Dudley Leavitt Pickman to MFA. (Accession date: May 7, 1931) 1: Granddaughter of Francis Willoughby (deputy governor of Massachusetts, 1665-1671), Mary m. Thomas Barton, 1710; in 1758 he bequeathed "unto my dearly beloved wife.. All her Maiden Plate as a Tanckard Spoons ect and as moch more as she may want to be useful for her." 2: Mary and Francis Willoughby's daughter Mary m. Dr. Bezaleel Toppan; their daughter Mary (1744-1817), m. Benjamin Pickman IV (1740-1819); his aunt, Rachel, may be the RP inititals; Benjamin IV's son Thomas (1773-1817), m. second Sophia Palmer (1786-1862); their daughter Mary Toppan (1816-1878), m. Dr. George Bailey Loring, 1851; their daughter Sally Pickman Loring (1859-1913), m. Theodore F. Dwight.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Leavitt Pickman

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 26

    Dimensions

    Overall: 8.1 x 9.4 x 28.7 cm (3 3/16 x 3 11/16 x 11 5/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    31.227

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Manning House (Gallery LG36)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Caudle cup

    about 1690
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Description

    Gourd-shaped, embossed on lower half of body with figure of child coming from flower on each side and varoius flowers (tulips carnations and daisies?). Plain neck with moulded rim. Beaded and scrolled cast handles with woman’s head on shoulders.


    European floral imagery, enriched by the addition of cherubs, is seen on this caudle cup as chased (or hammered) decoration. The high quality of this ornament suggests that it was the work of a London-trained craftsman in John Coney’s shop. The cup was made for John and Mary (Brattle) Mico, perhaps at the time of their marriage in 1689. Caudle, a warm ceremonial drink of sack or another type of wine mixed with eggs, bread, spices, and sugar, was considered suitable for such occasions as weddings and baptisms, during which the cup was passed from hand to hand by the handles.

    The cup eventually descended to Oliver Wendell Holmes, the famed Boston physician and writer. In 1848, Holmes penned the poem “On Lending a Punch-Bowl” as a romantic tribute to his family’s “ancient silver bowl,” which he describes as the work of an “Antwerp smith,” brought to Plymouth on the Mayflower. This charming but mistaken notion is understandable given the cup’s superb workmanship and European-style imagery, and the fact that early American silver was not well understood at the time. After tracing the cup’s history, Holmes concludes:
    I love the memory of the past,-its pressed yet flagrant flowers,-
    The moss that clothes its broken walls, -the ivory in its towers;-
    Nay, this poor bawble it bequeathed,-my eyes grown moist and dim,
    To think of all the vanished joys that danced around its brim.

    Such nostalgic sentiments, expressed with greater frequency as the nineteenth century progressed, served to stimulate the collecting of “Americana” that continues unabated today.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Engraved IMM in block letters on bottom and Oliver Wendell Holmes in later script on neck.

    Markings

    IC fleur-de-lis below in shaped heart on bottom and neck.

    Provenance

    John and Mary (Brattle) Mico, m. 1689; by inheritance to Jacob Wendell (1691-1761) of Albany, who worked for John Mico; by descent to Mr and Mrs Edward Jackson Holmes (1); 1930, lent by Mr and Mrs Holmes to the MFA; 1941, returned; 1960, re-lent by Mrs. Holmes; 1965, bequest of Mrs. Holmes to the MFa. (Accession date: March 10, 1965) 1: Jacob m. 1714 Sarah Oliver; their son Oliver m. 1762 Mary Jackson; their daughter Sarah, m. 1801 Rev Abiel Holmes; their son Oliver Wendell Holmes, m. 1840 Amelia Lee Jackson; their son Oliver Wendell Holmes m. 1861 Fanny Dixwell; his nephew Edward Jackson Holmes.

    Credit Line

    The Edward Jackson Holmes Collection—Bequest of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 34

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia of base): 14.3 x 13 cm (5 5/8 x 5 1/8 in.); Other (Dia of rim): 14.6 cm (5 3/4 in.); Weight: 26 oz., 17 1/2 dwt.

    Accession Number

    65.388

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Joined chest

    1670–1700
    Attributed to Thomas Dennis (American (born in England), 1638–1706)

    Object Place: Probably Ipswich, Massachusetts

    Description

    The three-panel front of this joined chest is composed of two arch panels flanking a central diamond panel. The arch panels are carved with stylized palmettes with a chalice-shaped truncated central leaf, while the diamond panel encloses four tulip motifs, stem to stem, and is bordered by broad curling leaves. The stiles and rails are carved with addorsed palmettes. Much original pink-white and bluish black color remains in the backgrounds. The carving on the stiles was painted black against black, and traces of both black and white appear in the panels. Beneath the stiles are two brackets with the initials MI, possibly those of the original owner.

    The ends are two-paneled, with a molded central stile and a channeled rail; they retain a thin coat of green paint, flecked from the brush with an irregular pattern of dots. The back has three plain panels. The single plank pine lid is fitted with oak cleats and shows traces of a later coat of white lead, now largely rubbed off on the front portions. The ends of the lid are gouged with quarter-round indentations.

    The interior is fitted with a till, the lid of which has a molded edge; and the bottom of the chest is made of five oak planks running transversely and nailed in place. The keyhole escucheon is original, but the lock and catch are lacking.


    Many woodworking shops were active in seventeenth-century New England, and ordinarily the sources of their furniture design can be traced back to specific areas of England. This example is from Ipswitch in Essex County of eastern Massachusetts. The chest is related to those associated with William Searle, who arrived in Essex County from Devonshire, England, in 1663, and with Thomas Dennis, also from southwestern England, who married Searle’s widow and is the more likely maker of this example. The shallow relief carving covering almost every square inch of its facade is evocative of the Devon style, as is its original painted decoration, much of which has survived though muted by time.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Brackets carved with initials: "M" on proper right and "I" on proper left.

    Provenance

    Purchased by J. Templeman Coolidge about 1891 from John L. Coleman of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who, Mr. Coolidge surmised, probably acquired it in the Portsmouth vicinity; Gift of J. Templeman Coolidge (Accession Date August 1, 1929)

    Credit Line

    Gift of John Templeman Coolidge

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 7

    Dimensions

    Overall: 77.5 x 112.7 x 48.3 cm (30 1/2 x 44 3/8 x 19 in.)

    Accession Number

    29.1015

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, white pine

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Joined chest with drawer

    1699

    Object Place: Hampshire county, Massachusetts

    Description

    Many woodworking shops were active in seventeenth-century New England, and ordinarily the sources of their furniture design can be traced back to specific areas of England. This example is from Springfield in the Connecticut River Valley. Bearing the carved initials PK and the date 1699, this example was probably made as a dower chest. It has been suggested that it was made for Prudence Kellogg of Hadley, Massachusetts, who married Deacon Abraham Merrill of West Hartford in that year, but that supposition has yet to be confirmed. It is one of a large body of some 175 surviving objects produced between about 1680 and 1730 in the Connecticut valley from Enfield, Connecticut, to Northfield, Massachusetts, and embellished with the so-called Hadley motif of a tulip and leaf on a stem. It is also part of a small subgroup enriched with applied spindles and chevron inlay formed
    by contrasting heartwood (dark-colored) and sapwood (light-colored) of black walnut (Juglans nigra). This type of decorations and other elements of the chest have been linked to the regional furniture of the North Country of England, brought to the valley by an immigrant craftsman from that region.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Probably owned originally by Prudence Kellogg (b. October 14, 1675, in Hadley, Mass.; married April 18, 1699, to Deacon Abraham Merrill of Hartford); collection of William Z. Hulbert, Middletown, Connecticut, about 1891; owned by Tyler as early as 1911

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 11

    Dimensions

    80.96 x 136.18 x 46.67 cm (31 7/8 x 53 5/8 x 18 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.218

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, pine, maple, black walnut

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Court cupboard

    1685–90

    Object Place: Northern Essex County, prob. Ipswich or Newbury, Massachusetts

    Description

    The cupboard–used to store textiles and to display silver, glass, ceramics, and other costly wares–was among the most expensive and prominent articles of domestic furniture. This example is richly embellished with almost the full vocabulary of seventeenth-century ornament: shallow relief carving; crisp turnings; moldings derived from architectural sources; and decoration painted black, in imitation of ebony. Period inventories mention fine linen covering the tops of cupboards, such as the “two diaper cuberd cloaths” and “one hollond one” in the 1691 inventory of Jonathan Avery of Dedham.

    Provenance

    Said to have been bought by Zachariah Allen at the sale of the John Hancock house in Boston. It descended to Mrs. Charles Sprague Sargent, who gave it to William Robeson, who took it to Brussels, from whence it returned to the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Maurice Geeraerts in memory of Mr. and Mrs. William R. Robeson

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 20

    Dimensions

    149.22 x 123.19 x 49.21 cm (58 3/4 x 48 1/2 x 19 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    51.53

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, maple, white pine

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Joined great chair

    about 1640–85

    Object Place: probably Ipswich-Rowley area, Essex County, Massachusetts

    Description

    A wainscot chair, with the upper panel of the two-paneled back carved with a bold guilloche containing three rosettes. The guilloche bands are sharply incised with pairs of parallel lines, and the twelve petals of each flower are similarly cut with a simple leaf design. The borders of the guilloche are filled with broadly cut foliage. On the stiles are carved S-scrolls against a punch-roughened ground, and the rail extends beyond the stiles and is carved with a double arcade incised with crosshatching. The front posts are square in section, tapering upwards both above and below the seat; while the back posts, of rectangular section, taper in the front plane on both directions from the seat. The arms are shaped with a slight belly, and droop forward to a half-moon finial. The seat is of two oak planks notched at the sides, and the stretchers are rectangular.

    The chair was restored in 1937 on the basis of the chair in the Danvers (Mass.) Historical Society. The plank seat is a replacement, the rear legs are spliced, the lower square section of the front legs replaced, and the side and front stretchers renewed. There have been some repairs to the crest rail, especially at the proper right corner, and there are traces of black paint throughout.


    Like the leather great chair (1977.711), this armchair was a symbol of hierarchy and authority in a seventeenth-century home. Framed with mortise-and-tenon joints like a chest of the period (see 29.1015), it is decorated with crisp, low-relief carving, including a back panel with a bold guilloche band, formed of interlaced circles with rosettes at their openings. The front legs and arms are not turned, but are square in section, sawn to shape and then refined with tools such as a drawknife, plane, or carver’s gouge.

    The chair is one of at least six related examples now known; two others were also recovered in Essex County. All derive their form and ornament from East Anglian furniture of the period. Like many seventeenth-century objects, it has suffered losses and alterations over time. After the Museum purchased the chair in 1937, it undertook a restoration treatment designed to return it to an approximation of its original appearance, using a closely related chair at the Danvers (Massachusetts) Historical Society as a prototype. A later seat was replaced with the current oak planks, and repairs were made to the lower parts of the legs and the stretchers.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    The chair was first known in the Henry F. Waters (1833-1913) collection in Salem, as early as ca. 1883, and a photograph which Waters gave to Irving Lyon in 1883 bears the inscription "oak chair picked up in Essex Co[unty]." It descended to his grand-nephew, Mr. William Crowninsheild Waters, Essex Street, Salem, Massachusetts; later purchased by the Museum in April 1937 from either Francis M. Nichols, The Antique Galleries, 22 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts, or from Hyman Kaufman, for $500 (Accession Date April 1, 1937)

    Credit Line

    Samuel Putnam Avery Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 120

    Dimensions

    Overall: 103.5 x 57.8 x 42.2 cm (40 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 16 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    37.316

    Medium or Technique

    Oak

    On View

    Brown-Pearl Hall (Gallery LG35)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Tankard

    about 1700
    Henry Hurst (American, born in Sweden, 1666–1717)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Straight tapering sides, moulded base & rim; flat top with serrated edge, reeded shoulder and chased border. Scroll handle embossed with fruit and flowers, rat-tail drop, cherub’s head tip, reeded hinge, dolphin and mask purchase.


    In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America, the tankard was defined as “a large vessel with a cover, for strong drink,” such as beer, ale, or hard cider. Silver examples varied greatly in size, from small tankards made for individual use to more capacious ones that held as many as four quarts to be passed from hand to hand around the table.

    This tankard by Henry Hurst-one of only three known objects bearing his mark-is largely typical of Boston examples made in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but the Swedish-style embossed fruit and foliage on its handle are extraordinary, perhaps even unique in American silver, because most American handle decoration is cast.

    Hurst was born in Sweden, probably trained in Stockholm in the 1680s, and apparently worked as a journeyman in London in the 1690s. At the end of the century, Richard Conyers, a Boston goldsmith, contracted with Hurst to emigrate to America as his exclusive employee for two years, apparently recognizing Hurst’s great skill in the specialty of chasing and embossing. Hurst and Conyers soon had a falling-out, and Hurst broke his contract. He then went to work in 1701 and 1702 for Edward Winslow. He may have been responsible for the elaborately chased sugar boxes that were produced in Winslow’s shop at that time (see 42.251).

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    on bottom TKT, AL and "Came into possession..."

    Markings

    HH in shaped punch twice on cover and twice on side

    Provenance

    Early history unknown. (1) By descent to Sally Pickman Loring Dwight (1859-1913); May 5, 1916 lent by the Estate of Sally Pickman Dwight; May 17, 1918, transferred to the estate of their son Lawrence Dwight (1896-1918); June 28, 1918, returned to estate of Lawrence Dwight; by descent to his cousin; March 17, 1920, lent by Mrs. Dudley Leavitt Pickman to MFA; 1931, gift of Mr and Mrs Dudley Leavitt Pickman to MFA. (Accession date: May 7, 1931) 1: AL may be for Abigail Lindall, daughter of Timothy and Mary (Verin) Lindall, who m. in 1704, as his second wife, Benjamin Pickman II; their grandson Benjamin IV (1740-1819) m Mary Wiloughby (1744-1817); Benjamin IV's son Thomas (1773-1817), m. second Sophia Palmer (1786-1862); their daughter Mary Toppan (1816-1878), m. Dr. George Bailey Loring, 1851; their daughter Sally Pickman Loring (1859-1913), m. Theodore F. Dwight.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Leavitt Pickman

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 64

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia. of base): 17.8 x 13.2 cm (7 x 5 3/16 in.); Other (dia. of lip): 11.1cm (4 3/8in.); Weight: 26 oz., 5 dwt.

    Accession Number

    31.228

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Sugar box

    about 1680–85
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Oval with four scroll feet. Body repousee & granulated; cover more elaborate with acanthus & wreath, knotted serpent forms handle. Pierced sheild-shaped hasp.


    Sweetness and silver were luxuries purchased at a great price-in both human and economic terms-in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Inhumane slave labor was used to extract silver ore from the mines at Potosi and elsewhere in South America and to grow and harvest sugar cane in the West Indies. Wealthy consumers then expended considerable sums to buy the imported sugar and to commission elaborate silver vessels, such as these three sugar boxes, to hold the precious substance on their tables.

    Of the ten known survivingAmerican sugar boxes, nine, including the three examples shown here, are by John Coney or Edward Winslow of Boston, while one anomalous example is marked by Daniel Greenough of New Hampshire. Fashioned in the form of Italian cassoni (chests) and richly ornamented, these boxes are among the finest examples of early American silver. The elaborate chasing on each box may be the work of a skilled immigrant specialist. Nathaniel Gay may have been responsible for the chasing on this box, while Henry Hurst may have performed a similar role for the Winslow example (42.251).
    In the seventeenth century, sugar was thought to possess special powers: one writer in 1637 argued that it “nourishes the body, generates good blood, cherishes the spirit, makes people prolific, [and] strengthens children in the womb.” The iconography of the boxes alludes to marriage, fecundity, and fertility, making them “colonial expressions of courtly love” perfectly suited to house a material thought to contain reproductive and amatory properties.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Inscribed on base in script: "The gift of Grandmother Norton to Anna Quincy born 1719" Later "Joanna Quincy (Thaxter) Loring. Sophia (Loring) Whittemore. Anna Quincy (Thaxter) Cushing. Mary (Cushing) Churchill. 1900"

    Markings

    Five marks: all heart-shaped with "I C" and a cross of fleur de lis beneath 1. interior, center of bowl, facing towards rear of piece 2. and 3.- on rim of lid, above lactch/lock, facing towards center of lid 4. and 5.- on lid, embedded in matte decoration, both rear half of lid, one on either side of finial

    Provenance

    First owner conjectured as John Norton; his widow, Mary (Mason) Norton, to Anna Quincy (1719-1799), daughter of John Quincy (Harvard 1708) and Elizabeth (Norton). By descent to Mrs. Joseph Churchill (1); February 13, 1911, lent by Mrs. Churchill to MFA; 1913, gift of Mrs. Churchill to MFA. (Accession date: April 3, 1913) 1: Anna married John Thaxter 1744; their daughter Joanna Quincy (1757-1856), m. Thomas Loring; their daughter Sophia, m. Nathaniel Whittemore; the eldest daughter of her cousin Susan Joy Thaxter, Anna Quincy Thaxter, m. Benjamin Cushing; their daughter Mary, m. Joseph Richmond Churchill.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Joseph Richmond Churchill

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 33

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w x d): 12.2 x 15.2 x 19.8 cm (4 13/16 x 6 x 7 3/4 in.); Weight: 29 oz., 10 dwt

    Accession Number

    13.421

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Sugar box

    about 1700
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Elliptical, convex sides ornamented by 16 oval bosses surrounded by reeding and divided by repousse trefoils, flaring rim, stepped and domed hinged cover, piercing hasp engraved SG, pad feet. Band of reeding midway on cover, gadrooned ellipse around top across which coiled serpent forms ring handle.


    Sweetness and silver were luxuries purchased at a great price-in both human and economic terms-in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Inhumane slave labor was used to extract silver ore from the mines at Potosi and elsewhere in South America and to grow and harvest sugar cane in the West Indies. Wealthy consumers then expended considerable sums to buy the imported sugar and to commission elaborate silver vessels, such as these three sugar boxes, to hold the precious substance on their tables.

    Of the ten known survivingAmerican sugar boxes, nine, including the three examples shown here, are by John Coney or Edward Winslow of Boston, while one anomalous example is marked by Daniel Greenough of New Hampshire. Fashioned in the form of Italian cassoni (chests) and richly ornamented, these boxes are among the finest examples of early American silver. The elaborate chasing on each box may be the work of a skilled immigrant specialist. Nathaniel Gay may have been responsible for the chasing on the early Coney box (13.421), while Henry Hurst may have performed a similar role for the Winslow example (42.251).

    In the seventeenth century, sugar was thought to possess special powers: one writer in 1637 argued that it “nourishes the body, generates good blood, cherishes the spirit, makes people prolific, [and] strengthens children in the womb.” The iconography of the boxes alludes to marriage, fecundity, and fertility, making them “colonial expressions of courtly love” perfectly suited to house a material thought to contain reproductive and amatory properties.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    SG on hasp

    Markings

    Three marks: all heart-shaped with "I C" and cross or fleur de lis beneath 1. interior, center of bowl, facing toward the rear of the piece 2. and 3. on rim of lid above latch/lock, facing toward center of lid

    Provenance

    Samuel Gardner of Salem, Massachusetts (1648-1724); the inventory of his grandson of the same name (1712-1769) listed "1 sugar box wt 23 oz". 1932, bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler to MFA. (Accession date: Sept 1, 1932)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h.x w. x d.): 16.7 x 20.3 x 14 cm (6 9/16 x 8 x 5 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.370

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Sugar box

    about 1702
    Edward Winslow (American, 1669–1753)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Shallow elliptical box, almost vertical rim, curved sides embossed with four medallions divided by gadroons and acanthus leaves, band of reeding below; domed bottom; on four scrolled feet. High domed cover has delicate edging on moulded rim, band of reeding (cracked) midway to flattened top which is embossed with wreath encircled by foliage on matted ground. Foliated cast scroll handle across top, also embossed. Front has small lug for missing hasp (hinge also gone)


    Sweetness and silver were luxuries purchased at a great price-in both human and economic terms-in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Inhumane slave labor was used to extract silver ore from the mines at Potosi and elsewhere in South America and to grow and harvest sugar cane in the West Indies. Wealthy consumers then expended considerable sums to buy the imported sugar and to commission elaborate silver vessels, such as these three sugar boxes, to hold the precious substance on their tables.

    Of the ten known surviving American sugar boxes, nine, including the three examples shown here, are by John Coney or Edward Winslow of Boston, while one anomalous example is marked by Daniel Greenough of New Hampshire. Fashioned in the form of Italian cassoni (chests) and richly ornamented, these boxes are among the finest examples of early American silver. The elaborate chasing on each box may be the work of a skilled immigrant specialist. Nathaniel Gay may have been responsible for the chasing on the early Coney (13.421), while Henry Hurst may have performed a similar role for the this example.

    In the seventeenth century, sugar was thought to possess special powers: one writer in 1637 argued that it “nourishes the body, generates good blood, cherishes the spirit, makes people prolific, [and] strengthens children in the womb.” The iconography of the boxes alludes to marriage, fecundity, and fertility, making them “colonial expressions of courtly love” perfectly suited to house a material thought to contain reproductive and amatory properties.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Engraved S/ GM on front medallion

    Markings

    Initials "EW" above a fleur-de-lis in a shaped shield twice each on rims and cover

    Provenance

    Original owners unknown; Gurdon and Mary (Whittingham or Withington) Saltonstall of Boston and New London, Connecticut, m. Nov. 13, 1712; 1913 lent by Miss Lydia C Head to MFA; 1915, returned; by 1936, to Philip L Spalding; 1936 temporary loan of Mr Spalding to MFA; 1940, transfered to Mrs. Spalding; 1942, gift of Mrs. Spalding and children to MFA. (Accession date: April 9 and 16, 1942)

    Credit Line

    The Philip Leffingwell Spalding Collection—Given in his memory by Katharine Ames Spalding and Philip Spalding, Oakes Ames Spalding, and Hobart Ames Spalding

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 69

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w x d): 17 x 21.6 x 14.6 cm (6 11/16 x 8 1/2 x 5 3/4 in.); 22 oz., 15 1/2 dwt.

    Accession Number

    42.251

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Standing salt

    1690–1700
    Jeremiah Dummer (American, 1645–1718)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Spool shaped circular body, moulded midband; moulded octagonal base and top separated from spool by bands of reeding. Shallow circular receptacle for salt and four scrolled projections on top. Reeding at bottom.


    Only three American silver standing salts are known to survive, all from Boston, including this example by Jeremiah Dummer, the first native-born North American silversmith. The two others were made respectively by Edward Winslow and the partnership of John Allen and John Edwards. It is thought that Dummer, who apprenticed to John Hull, in turn may have trained Winslow, Allen, and Edwards, as well as John Coney and several other Boston silversmiths.

    English in style, Dummer’s standing salt-used to hold the table condiment that at the time was relatively rare and thus worthy of an elaborate receptacle-is a good example of the early Baroque style. It features a smooth spool-shaped body, with an applied midband at center that contrasts with bands of reeding at its top and bottom. Supported by a hexagonal foot, the body is topped by an upper section with a shallow circular receptacle designed to hold the salt, and with four scrolled upright projections that are meant to support a covering napkin, plate, or vessel.

    One of the leading silversmiths of his era, Dummer was also an active church and civic figure. At his death, an obituary in the Boston News-Letter noted that he “had served his country faithfully in several Publick Stations, and obtained of all that knew him the Character of a Just Virtuous and Pious Man.” Dummer’s sons Jeremiah and William, who became lieutenant governor, went on to achieve great prominence in Massachusetts politics and public affairs.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Engraved R Russell above reeding at bottom, Rebe on edge of top.

    Markings

    I.D fleur-de-lis below in heart in bowl and on side

    Provenance

    Early history unknown. 1932, bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler to MFA. (Accession date: Sept 1, 1932)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 20

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x w): 14 x 11.9 cm (5 1/2 x 4 11/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.371

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Candlestick (one of a pair)

    1695–1700
    John Noyes (American, 1674–1749)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Cut-cornered square moulded base with band of reeding; spiral reeding at base of stick; hollow moulded and reeded flange; fluted column, with stopped reeding and collar, with incised line, at flange. Moulded rim . Bobeche in outline of base with a very deep bezel of two sheets moulded beneath and circle of spiral reeding on top. Mark on side away from crest on edge. cork in bottom of stopped bezel. Flange opening at outer edge. Top and flange bent.


    Candlesticks are rare in seventeenth-century American silver; only an earlier pair made about 1685 by Jeremiah Dummer and this pair by John Noyes-a skilled craftsman who is thought to have apprenticed with Dummer-are known to survive. Noyes completed his training in 1695 or 1696 and fashioned these hollow columnar candlesticks shortly thereafter for Pierre Baudouin (anglicized to Bowdoin), a Huguenot who immigrated to Casco Bay in Maine in 1687 and then settled in Boston, where he died in 1706. They descended in the Bowdoin family until presented to the Museum in 1954. One of the candlesticks’ eighteenth-century owners was James Bowdoin, for whom Bowdoin College in Maine is named.
    The general form of these architectonic candlesticks was popular in English, French, and Dutch silver, brass, pewter, and ceramics in the second half of the seventeenth century. Like the Dummer salt (see 32.371), the Noyes candlesticks are in keeping with the latest London styles; they exemplify the best in the early Baroque mode, as light reflects and recedes off the small convex moldings on the base, flange, and removable bobeche (candle socket) of each stick, giving life to the surface and achieving the light and dark contrasts that are such an important part of this aesthetic.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Pierre Baudouin (d. 1706); by descent to Miss Clara Bowdoin Winthrop (1). 1953, lent by Miss Winthrop to MFA; 1954, gift of Miss Winthrop to MFA. (Accession date: May 13, 1954) 1 Pierre Baudouin emigrated from La Rochelle, France, to Casco Bay in 1687, was in Boston by 1690; his son James (d. 1747); his son James (1726-1790), after whom Bowdoin College was named, m. Elizabeth Erving; their son James (Harvard 1771), died childless, 1811; his sister Elizabeth, m. Sir John Temple Bt.; their daughter, m. Thomas Lindall Winthrop, grandfather of the donor.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Miss Clara Bowdoin Winthrop

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 90

    Dimensions

    Overall: 16.2 x 23.5 cm (6 3/8 x 9 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    54.595

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Chocolate pot

    1701
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Moulded band around base and top. Moulded cover with removable finial. Curved spout with lines of beading at right angles to wooden scroll handle.


    In 1697 Samuel Sewall visited William Stoughton, lieutenant governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sewall observed that they had “breakfast together on Venison and Chockalatte,” and that “Massachusetts and Mexico met at his Honour’s Table.” A few years later, Stoughton left twelve pounds in his will to his niece, Sarah Byfield Tailer, with the stipulation that she acquire a piece of silver as a “particular remembrance” of him. Stoughton died in 1701, and Mrs. Tailer apparently commissioned Coney to make this chocolate pot-the earliest American example known-in fulfillment of his bequest.

    Inscription

    Engraved on bottom "The gift of Wm. Stoughton Esquire to Mrs. Sara Tailer: 1701"

    Markings

    IC in rectangle on cover. Fleur de lis on bottom near handle.

    Provenance

    Commissioned by Sarah Byfield Tailer (b. 1682 - d. 1708) [see note 1]; to her husband, William Tailer (b. 1675/1676 - d. 1731/1732), and his second wife, Abigail Gillam Dudley Tailer. By 1928, Frederick Silsbee Whitwell (b. 1862 - d. 1941) and his wife, Gertrude Howard Whitwell (b. 1873), Boston [see note 2]; sold by Frederick Silsbee Whitwell to Edward Jackson Holmes (b. 1873 - d. 1950), Boston; 1929, gift of Edward Jackson Holmes to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 7, 1929) NOTES: [1] Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Stoughton, left twelve pounds in his will (executed July 6, 1701) to his nephew's wife, Sarah Byfield Tailer, with the stipulation that she acquire a piece of silver as a "particular remembrance" of him. [2] They lent the chocolate pot to the MFA on May 3, 1928. It may have passed to them by descent, through the Story and Bradstreet families.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Edward Jackson Holmes

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (h x dia. of base): 20.5 x 9.2 cm (8 1/16 x 3 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    29.1091

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Caster

    1710–20
    John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Baluster form, convex section above base moulding, flange below bexel. Domed cover with moulding near rim, indented midway, cast angular finial holding pierced panels at top. Tiny hole in body at foot. Two punches indicate point of clousure.


    John Coney was New England’s most important silversmith from the 1680s until his death in 1722. The Reverend Thomas Foxcroft observed in Coney’s obituary that he was “excellently talented for the Employment assign’d Him, and took a particular Delight therein.” This small masterpiece in the late Baroque, or Queen Anne, style was made in the last decade of his long and productive career and evokes the “particular Delight” Coney enjoyed as a silversmith of the highest order.

    Used for “casting” (or shaking) dry mustard, pepper, or sugar onto food, this caster is engraved with the Charnock arms for John Charnock and his wife Hannah (Holyoke) Charnock of Boston. The hexagonal baluster form, easily grasped by the user, is a superb expression of the elegant simplicity of the period, as are the graceful, delicate piercings of the detachable cover. Like the Warland family chest-on-chest (1986.240), Coney’s caster is a demonstration of the uppermost level of taste among Boston’s wealthy citizens of the early eighteenth century.

    The Museum’s caster was originally one of two owned by the Charnock family. They descended to later generations and were recorded as “2 silver pepper boxes” valued at $6 in the estate inventory of Polly Dane, a descendant, in 1840. By 1963, when the Museum acquired this caster, the location of its mate was not known. Twenty years later, however, the second example reappeared and was sold at auction in New York.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Engraved with Charnock arms: argent 3 crosses crosslet on a bed or, on front panel, in scroll cartouche

    Markings

    IC crowned coney below in shield on bottom

    Provenance

    John Charnock, Boston (d. 1723); by descent to Mr and Mrs Francis S Dane (1); 1946, lent by Mr and Mrs Dane to the MFA; 1963, purchased from the Danes by the MFA. (Accession date: June 19, 1963) 1: to his second wife and widow Hannah (Holyoke) [who m. 1727 Theophilus Burrill, Lynnn, Massachusetts]; to Charnock's son John (b. 1701by first marriage to Mary (King)), he m. Emma, sister of the goldsmith John Blowers; their son John (b. 1726); his adopted daughter, Polly (Brown) Charnock (d. 1840), m. Nathan Dane (1752-1835), uncle of Francis S. Dane.

    Credit Line

    Marion E. Davis Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 62

    Dimensions

    Overall: 4.9 x 15.9 cm (1 15/16 x 6 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    63.956

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • High chest of drawers

    about 1700–20

    Object Place: probably Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    In this high chest, elegance of line, richness of turning, and choice of wood have been combined with consummate skill. The rising moldings which crown the upper case complement the flatter, broader moldings at the top of the lower case and help to frame the four tiers of drawers. The drawers are of graduated sizes, with the upper divided in two, and three small drawers below. They are all veneered with maple burl, framed with a double band of walnut set in herringbone fashion. The drawers are framed with double-arched moldings, and are fitted with scalloped escutcheon plates and drop handles. The center of the case is cut with a deep arch with reverse curved sides, flanked by flattened ogee arches. The sides of the case are solid wood and are cut with ogee arches at the base. All the lower borders have an attached bead strip to emphasize the outline. The legs are cup-turned and reach extremely thin diameters at several points. The legs are pegged through the shaped flat stretchers into the flattened ball feet with deep pads.

    The sides, structural members, and legs are maple, while the drawers, back and stretchers are pine. The keyhole escutcheons are original, as are one pull and its plate. The other pulls are copies. There is a small repair to the center of the front stretcher.


    The introduction of the Baroque style coincided with the more widespread use of such cabinetmaking techniques as the dovetail joint, named for its angled shape. Small yet strong, dovetail joints allowed craftsmen to use thinner and lighter wood to create taller and more elegant storage furniture. Earlier mortise-and-tenon joints (formed by an interlocking tongue and groove) required thicker and stronger boards, resulting in weighty, horizontally oriented pieces. This chest highlights the possibilities offered by the dovetail joint: its large, visually heavy top section is actually a veneered, lightweight pine case (held together by dovetail joints), which seems to perch precariously on slim, turned legs.

    Provenance

    1926, published by Luke Vincent Lockwood as being in the collection of the collector Hollis French, Boston, Massachusetts; 1928, lent by Hollis French (collector), May 31, 1928; 1940, gift of Hollis French (Accession Date October 10, 1940)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Hollis French

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 51

    Dimensions

    Overall: 161 x 101.6 x 54.3 cm (63 3/8 x 40 x 21 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    40.607

    Medium or Technique

    Maple, walnut veneer, maple burl veneer, pine

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Chest-on-chest

    1715–25

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    This chest, originally owned by the Warland family of Cambridge, Massachusetts, appears at first glance to be English-made, given its broad proportions, walnut veneers, fluted and canted front corners, recessed inlaid shell, and “slider” (a pull-out shelf in the mid-section used for folding textiles and clothing). However, further analysis indicated that the piece was made of native woods, including American black walnut and eastern white pine. In addition, microanalysis proved that the pollen trapped in the hardened mixture of fats and dust in the crevices comes from trees, plants, and grasses characteristic of coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

    Provenance

    By 1770s, Thomas Warland (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1757-1837). Warland married Elizabeth Bell (1754-1838), then by descent through the family. Gilbert T. Walker, Chatham, MA March 29, 1986, sold at auction by Robert C. Eldred, Inc., purchased by Joe Lionetti of John Walton, Inc. Antiques (Jewett City, CT); 1986, purchased from Walton by the Museum purchase (Accession date: June 25, 1986)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by a Friend of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture and Otis Norcross Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    179.7 x 107.31 x 54.61 cm (70 3/4 x 42 1/4 x 21 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1986.240

    Medium or Technique

    American black walnut, burl walnut veneer, eastern white pine

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Desk and bookcase

    about 1715–20

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Desk and bookcase of Virginia walnut and white pine. Front of crotch-grain veneer; drawer and door bands of mahogany, ebony and satinwood; stars of rosewood and satinwood on doors and lid. Scroll pediment; central finial ( a replacement). Two arched paneled doors enclosing drawers and pigeonholes. Slant lid above four graduated drawers with original brass bail handles and escutcheons. Bracket feet.


    The practice of adding a bookcase above a slant-front desk developed in early-eighteenth-century Britain. Tall, substantial, and imposing, the combined desk and bookcase was designed to look like a small building. This very early American example incorporates many characteristics of the late Baroque style. The architectural form and strong verticality of the piece give it a striking presence, while its narrow proportions, clean lines, and high-quality woods add sophistication and refinement. The surface is enlivened by swirling veneers and inlaid designs in light and dark woods, including bands in a checkerboard pattern and five stars that create the illusion of spinning. The interior is lavishly fitted with stepped, undulating drawers; carved shells; and pigeonhole compartments that held important business and family documents.

    Provenance

    Avery, Greenough, Townsend families; purchased from Mr. Edward Greenough Townsend, New York, for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-century American Arts No. 18

    Dimensions

    224.79 x 75.25 x 52.07 cm (88 1/2 x 29 5/8 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.176

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut, white pine, mahogany, ebony, satinwood

    On View

    Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

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  • Two-handled covered cup

    About 1740–50
    Jacob Hurd (American, 1702 or 1703–1758)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Hurd’s monumental, two-handled cups are among the masterpieces of Boston Baroque silver. This one was made for John Rowe and is beautifully engraved with his coat of arms. Graceful in stance and majestic in bearing, the cup presents a perfectly balanced composition of smooth surfaces and flowing handles and moldings. Although it is not known how Rowe acquired this cup, Bostonians often gave Hurd’s cups as presentation pieces to reward sea captains and military heroes. At least one was used to hold Bishop, a sweet drink made of wine, oranges or lemons, and sugar mixed with mulled and spiced port. Bishop was drunk as the cup was passed from hand to hand.

    Provenance

    John Rowe (b. Exeter, England, November 27, 1715; emigrated 1735; d. 1787); m. Hannah Speakman (1725-1805), 1743; his nephew, John Rowe; his granddaughter, Mrs. Caleb Loring Cunningham (nee Anne Rowe), from whom it was purchased by the MFA in October 1936 for $5,500.

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 187

    Dimensions

    Overall: 34.3 x 30.5 x 21 cm (13 1/2 x 12 x 8 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    36.415

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Clothespress

    1740–50

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The clothespress-used for storing linens and other textiles in many drawers, including some hidden by the doors of the upper case-was a relatively rare form in American furniture. This is one of a small group made in Boston; each features a closed, deeply curved pediment, derived from Anglo-Dutch furniture. The clothespress was made for Boston merchant Gilbert DeBlois, probably near the time of his marriage to Ann Coffin, in 1749. DeBlois (whose portrait hangs nearby) was a Loyalist who fled to England during the Revolution, leaving his family and property behind. His wife managed to retain or reacquire family possessions, and the clothespress remained in the family until it was acquired by the Museum, in 1987.

    Provenance

    By tradition, made in 1749 for the wedding of the Boston merchant Gilbert Deblois (1725-1791) and Ann Coffin; by descent to their daughter, Elizabeth DeBlois (1761-1843); to Charlotte DeBlois (d. 1881); purchased by Mary Atwood in 1881; purchased by Dr. Thomas Amory DeBlois in 1881 for $50; purchased by the Museum from Stephen W. DeBlois, Annisquam, Massachusetts, 1987 (Accession Date April 22, 1987)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Friends of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture

    Details

    Dimensions

    230.5 x 114.3 x 56.51 cm (90 3/4 x 45 x 22 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1987.254

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, chestnut, eastern white pine

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

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  • Side chair

    about 1740

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    Unlike the rectilinear lines of the early Baroque style, the late Baroque embraced curves. This undulating Philadelphia side chair is sculptural in form with a sweeping arched crest rail and a bulbous rounded seat. Some scholars have argued that these curves came into fashion precisely because they were more expensive to make. Craftsmen on both sides of the Atlantic had learned how to mass-produce the straight, turned elements of the early style. Larger quantities made such chairs less expensive and therefore available to more people. In their effort to offer novel and more exclusive designs, craftsmen serving the wealthy began to create curved furniture that had to be carved by hand, thus slowing down production and greatly increasing costs.

    The most boldly shaped American late Baroque chairs, such as this example, were made in Philadelphia. The city was becoming increasingly important-in both wealth and political power-just as this curved style was gaining popularity in the American colonies. Philadelphia’s new prominence further attracted immigrant British craftsmen who brought the latest styles.

    This chair’s striking profile is enhanced by carving that emphasizes the piece’s curves. Leafy tendrils flowing out of a carved shell stream down each leg, while a large, looser shell spreads over the crest rail between two dynamic volutes. A highly unusual flamelike motif creeps up the center toe of the trifid feet. Few chairs of this style surpass the opulence of this example, either in form or decoration.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Mrs. Charles O. Richardson, Weston, Massachusetts, to Maxim Karolik, 1929. Gift of Maxim Karolik, 1929.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 78

    Dimensions

    Overall: 108.6 x 51.4 x 40.6 cm (42 3/4 x 20 1/4 x 16 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.119

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut, white pine

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Missal stand (atril)

    1725–30

    Object Place: Probably Moxos missions, Alto Peru (present-day Bolivia)

    Description

    Formed of five sheets of silver with a simple replaced wooden framework, the slanted central portion of the stand has been repousséd with an elliptical boss on which is chased the Jesuit seal containing the letters “IHS,” with a cross above and three nails below. Covered throughout with repousséd and chased decoration, the pattern is bilaterally symmetrical. Passion flowers and vines form the primary subject matter; a pair of “hombre verde,” or green men, flank the Jesuit seal, and a pair of viscachas emerges from the greenery below the seal. An angel-like grotesquerie emerges from a foliate bud located centrally on the lower skirt of the stand. Cast sphinxlike creatures are affixed to the two front corners, and three small floral elements are attached to the stand’s upper edge.


    The bold floral and figurative work on this missal stand is similar to that seen in the preceding ornamental plaques. The stand is perhaps most notable for its inclusion of the mountain viscacha, an animal indigenous to South America. A member of the chinchilla family, this small and timid plant-eating rodent with large rabbitlike ears became a popular decorative element in silver and textiles of the postconquest period. The passion flower is depicted as a strawberry-shaped fruit on the side of the stand.
    The missal stand is intended to support a copy of the liturgical book of the Roman rite that is used by the priest during Mass. The stand would have been placed nearby on the altar so that the officiant could refer to it as needed. Because of its orientation toward the congregation, the missal stand was finished on the front and two sides but left open and unfinished at the back.

    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

    “IHS” in raised letters chased within an elliptical boss at center of stand.

    Markings

    None.

    Provenance

    Before 1968 with a private dealer Alphonse Jax, Montevideo, Uruguay; by 1968, sold by Edward Merrin Gallery, New York, to Landon T. Clay; April 14, 1975, loaned to the museum by Clay; 2001, gift to the museum by Landon T. Clay.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Landon T. Clay

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 29.5 x 34.8 x 27 cm, 2.6 kg (11 5/8 x 13 11/16 x 10 5/8 in., 5.7 lb.)

    Accession Number

    2001.843

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    William J. Fitzgerald Gallery (Gallery 135)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • High chest of drawers

    About 1730–40

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    “Japanned” decoration is a greatly simplified imitation of Asian lacquer work. In colonial America, the production of Japanned furniture was largely, if not exclusively, limited to Boston, where at least ten japanners worked before 1750. Several design characteristics link this example to two of these craftsmen, William Randall and Robert Davis. These include the large figures and animals (note the dog on the third long drawer), the oversized floral ornament (on the center of the second long drawer), long-necked birds resembling cranes (on the first and second long drawers and the skirt), and isolated, rather than integrated, groups of motifs.

    Inscription

    On the top of the lower case, in pencil: "Nov. 13-1860"

    Provenance

    By 1928, Charles Hitchcock Tyler (b. 1863 - d. 1931), Boston; 1932, bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 1, 1932)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Charles Hitchcock Tyler

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 51

    Dimensions

    Overall: 182.2 x 108.9 x 62.9 cm (71 3/4 x 42 7/8 x 24 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    32.227

    Medium or Technique

    Japanned butternut, maple, white pine

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

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  • Side chair (one of a pair)

    about 1750–60
    Probably carved by John Welch (American, 1711–1789)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Side chair
    Needlework seat attributed to Margaret Fayerweather Bromfield (1732-1761)
    Boston, about 1750-60
    Walnut, white pine, maple, original needlepoint seat cover

    Gift of Mrs. Jean Frederic Wagniere, in memory of her mother, Henrietta Slade Warner (Mrs. Henry Eldridge Warner), 1968 68.839

    Inscription

    In ink on underside of slip seat: "Capt. Fayerweather" On both seat rail and seat frame, a corresponding "V"

    Provenance

    By tradition, owned by Henry Bromfield, a Boston and London,merchant, and his wife (m. 1749) Margaret Fayerweather (1732-1761) who, family tradition says, did the needlework seats. Descended in the Bromfield-Weld family. By 1872, possibly owned by Mrs. I.H.T. Blanchard, Harvard, Mass.; by descent to Miss Margaret Bromfield Slade, Boston; by descent in 1943 to Henrietta Slade Warner (Mrs. Henry Eldridge Warner), Lincoln, Mass.; by descent in 1955 to her daughter, Mrs. Jean Frederic Wagniere; 1967, lent by Mrs. J. F. Wagniere; 1968, given by Mrs. Jean Frederic (Margaret Warner) Wagniere, Switzerland (Accession Date January 8, 1969)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Jean Wagniere in memory of her mother, Henrietta Slade Warner (Mrs. Henry Eldridge Warner)

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 98.4 x 55.9 x 52.1 cm (38 3/4 x 22 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    68.839

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut, white pine, maple, original needlework seat

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

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  • Card table

    1730–50

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Mahogany, wool needlework. Cabriole legs, Dutch feet shaped top with grooves for counters and needlework in center. Hinged frame.


    This table is notable for its original, needlework top, undoubtedly worked by a young woman, as was customary. The embroidered scene is derived from contemporary print sources and depicts a shepherdess resting on her elbow amid an abundance of flora and fauna.

    Inscription

    In graphite beneath top: "C" within a circle and with parallel lines) In paint on the back of the drawer: "JL" [?]

    Provenance

    In the collection of Mrs. Henry St. John Smith by 1928 and lent by her October 15, 1928; returned to her December 11, 1929; relent by Mrs. Constance Wharton Smith, August 31, 1934, from whom it was purchased in 1949 with an anonymous contribution and Income of William E. Nickerson Fund No.2 in April 1949 for $1,200.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously and William E. Nickerson Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 79

    Dimensions

    68.6 x 90.5 x 89.2 cm (27 x 35 5/8 x 35 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    49.330

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, chestnut, eastern white pine, original needlework top

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Tables, stands, screens

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  • Tilt-top tea table

    about 1760–75

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    When not in use, the top of this table could be tilted vertically. The tilting mechanism allows the tabletop to swivel while horizontal as well. This adaptable design permitted hostesses to serve tea without reaching or to store the table against a wall, while still exhibiting its craftsmanship and beauty. The robust, elaborate carving on this table is attributed to one of the city’s most skilled artisans-a craftsman whose work is well known by its style, but whose identity remains a mystery.

    Provenance

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts. Purchased via dealer Frances Nichols of Marblehead from Dr. Edwin A. Locke of Wilton, New Hampshire. Dr. Locke had purchased the table from dealer Isreal Sack, New York. Sack had purchased it from dealer Hyman Kaufman of South Sudbury, MA. Kaufman had purchased it about 1905 from a private home in Newcastle, Delaware and said "it came from Mayor Sheppley, of Philadelphia."

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 56

    Dimensions

    Overall: 75.9 x 84.8 cm (29 7/8 x 33 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.146

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Tables, stands, screens

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  • Dressing table

    About 1760–70

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    Figural motifs-such as the delicate swan carved on the central drawer of this table-are rare in American Rococo furniture. The table belongs to a small group of Philadelphia pieces embellished with scenes thought to be from Aesop’s “Fables.” The popularity of Aesop’s moralistic tales soared in the mid-eighteenth century, and illustrations from the stories were widely copied by English and American craftsmen on textiles, architectural elements, and other media. The fact that these tales, which warned against greed and vanity, decorated expensive luxury goods was an irony that may have appealed to, or been lost on, eighteenth-century consumers.

    Provenance

    "The M. and M. Karolik Collection of 18th century American Arts." Purchased by Winthrop Sargeant probably while living in Philadelphia after the Revolution; to his son George Washington Sargent; to his daughter Janet Percy Sargent, who later married William Butler Duncan; to her daughter Mary Duncan who later married Paul Dana; to her son (?) William Butler Duncan Dana, husband of the last owner (by tradition, as told by Mrs. William Butler Duncan Dana, date unknown); purchased by the Karoliks, 19XX.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 55

    Dimensions

    Overall: 81 x 51.8 x 92.1 cm (31 7/8 x 20 3/8 x 36 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.150

    Medium or Technique

    San Domingo mahogany, mahogany veneer, yellow-poplar, cedar

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

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  • Bread basket

    about 1765
    Daniel Christian Fueter (American (born in Switzerland), 1720–1785)

    Object Place: New York, New York

    Description

    This is one of the most sophisticated examples of American Rococo silver. Simultaneously light and monumental, the basket is a tour-de-force of design and technique. The delicate, lacy openwork lends a sense of liveliness, as light reflects off the solids and plays through the voids of the pierced body. Yet, the seemingly whimsical pattern is tightly controlled in execution and further contained by a solid, cast border of undulating fruit and foliage. The cast elements-border, scrolled feet, and twisted handle with unusual female masks-defy the solidity of their structure and add to the curving movement of the piece.

    Inscription

    Engraved with Harrison coat of arms

    Provenance

    Early ownership unknown, surely in Harrison family. To MFA, June 1954, purchased from Robert Ensko, Inc., for $3,500.

    Credit Line

    Decorative Arts Special Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 504

    Dimensions

    Overall: 27.1 x 37.8 x 31.1 cm (10 11/16 x 14 7/8 x 12 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    54.857

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

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  • Fireback

    About 1770–87
    Joseph Webb (American, about 1734–1787)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Cast-iron fireback consisting of a panel with an arched top and scrolled ears. Decorated with reliefs, foliate borders at the sides, and in the center with a coat of arms consisting of a shield, three castles separated by a chevron with an open compass, and with crest of a bird with a leafed banch in its beak, all elaborated with foliage. Motto along arched crest; motto in scroll below arms; maker’s name along bottom.


    Firebacks, made of durable cast iron, protected the rear, brick wall of the fireplace from flames and heat. Firebacks often were embellished in the latest styles or with a family crest. Here, the florid, Rococo-style border of C-scrolls and acanthus leaves is closely related to furniture and architectural decoration; the same woodcarvers who decorated high chests and chairs often carved the wooden molds used to create firebacks. This example bears the arms of the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons in Massachusetts. Joseph Webb was a Freemason, as was Paul Revere, who engraved Webb’s trade card.

    Inscription

    In a banderole below the shield: "FOLLOW REASON" with pellet between. Along the crest: 'THE FREE MASONS ARMS" with pellets between.

    Signed

    Along the bottom: "SOLD BY JOSEPH WEBB BOSTON" with pellets between words.

    Provenance

    Early history unknown. Consigned to Bourne's auction, November 27, 1982, lot 540; purchased at that auction by John Walton, Inc., a dealer from Jewett City, Connecticut; purchased later that year by the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by a Friend of the Department, William N. Banks Foundation, John Walton, Inc., and Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    64.13 x 68.58 x 3.81 cm (25 1/4 x 27 x 1 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1982.618

    Medium or Technique

    Cast iron

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Metalwork

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  • Desk and bookcase

    about 1770–85
    George Bright (American, 1726–1805)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    This imposing, bombé (swelled base) desk-and-bookcase represents the pinnacle of the Rococo style in Boston. From its massive, claw-and-ball feet to the eagle finial at the top, the piece is embellished with costly carving that represents a level of lavish ornamentation not ordinarily seen on Boston furniture. Bright, known as “the neatest workman in town,” signed his masterpiece on one of its drawers. He made it for Boston’s Judge Samuel Barrett as a wedding present to Barrett’s daughter Ann.

    Inscription

    On top of lower case: "Thom . . . [?]"

    Signed

    On the bottom of the left bottom drawer of the interior is the inscription in chalk " . . . Ge [?] Bright."

    Provenance

    Samuel Barrett (Boston, 1738-1798) to his daughter, Ann Barrett (b. 1774) at the time of her marriage in January 1792 to Dr. Isaac Green (b. 1759) in Windsor, Vermont; By descent throught the family until 1956. Bequest of Miss Charlotte Hazen, 1956 (Accession Date December 13, 1956)

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Miss Charlotte Hazen

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 64

    Dimensions

    252.7 x 109.2 x 61 cm (99 1/2 x 43 x 24 in.)

    Accession Number

    56.1194

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, white pine, glass

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Desk and bookcase

    1765–1785

    Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island

    Description

    Scroll pediment with carved finials. Triple division with convex and concave panels surmounted by carved shell forms on doors and slant lid, over 3 graduated blocked front drawers, on ogee feet. Doors flanked by fluted quarter columns. Brass bail handles and escutcheons.


    Two of the few surviving Newport desks-and-bookcases are in this gallery. Often considered the apogee of early-American cabinetmaking, these imposing objects are notable for their superior craftsmanship and carved, block-and-shell facades. In the lower case is a chest of drawers for storage of textiles, with a desktop above and tall shelves for keeping account books and papers behind lock and key. This example was found in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early twentieth century and relates stylistically to two desks-and-bookcases owned by the prominent Brown family, merchants of Providence.

    Provenance

    Purchased from Mrs. J. Marsden Perry, Providence, Rhode Island, 1939.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-century American Arts No. 19

    Dimensions

    Overall: 241.9 x 101.3 x 66 cm (95 1/4 x 39 7/8 x 26 in.) Other (Depth of desk opened): 96.5 cm (38 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.155

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, chestnut, pine, cherry

    On View

    Marilyn and John F. Keane Family Gallery (Gallery 127)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Coffeepot

    About 1770–80
    Richard Humphreys (American (born British West Indies), 1749–1832), Possibly engraved by James Smither (American, 1741–1797)

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    This majestic coffeepot is among the best Rococo silver produced in Philadelphia. The double-bellied form, gadrooned borders on the foot and lid, and scrolled, curving spout are characteristic hallmarks of the style, but perhaps the most beautiful passage of the object is on the side: the coat of arms and crest of a horse engraved within a delicate shell and foliate cartouche. The accompanying salver is supported on claw-and-ball feet and is engraved with the same coat of arms at its center. Shown here as a support for the coffeepot, it could also have been used as a server or stand for a single teacup, saucer, and spoon. Fashioning stands en suite with teapots and coffeepots seems to have been common in Philadelphia, although the custom is rarely encountered elsewhere in American silver.

    The talented Quaker silversmith Richard Humphreys was born in Tortola in the British West Indies. Apprenticed to Bancroft Woodcock in Wilmington, Delaware, he opened his own shop in Philadelphia in 1772. Although a relatively small number of objects by him are known, each-like this coffeepot and salver-is extraordinary. After service in the Revolution (for which he was censured by the Quaker Friends), he resumed his craft at “The Sign of the Coffee Pot” on Front Street in 1781 and later at different locations. He is perhaps best known as the maker of a large Neoclassical urn presented to Charles Thomson by the Continental Congress in 1774, when he was elected secretary of that political body, a position he held until 1789. That urn is engraved by James Smither, who may have executed the engraving here.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Descended in the family to Dr. George Clymer.

    Credit Line

    Gift in memory of Dr. George Clymer by his wife, Mrs. Clymer

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 519

    Dimensions

    Overall: 34.4 x 11.4 cm (13 9/16 x 4 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    56.589

    Medium or Technique

    Silver with wooden handle

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Salver

    About 1770–80
    Richard Humphreys (American (born British West Indies), 1749–1832), Possibly engraved by James Smither (American, 1741–1797)

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

    Description

    This majestic coffeepot is among the best Rococo silver produced in Philadelphia. The double-bellied form, gadrooned borders on the foot and lid, and scrolled, curving spout are characteristic hallmarks of the style, but perhaps the most beautiful passage of the object is on the side: the coat of arms and crest of a horse engraved within a delicate shell and foliate cartouche. The accompanying salver is supported on claw-and-ball feet and is engraved with the same coat of arms at its center. Shown here as a support for the coffeepot, it could also have been used as a server or stand for a single teacup, saucer, and spoon. Fashioning stands en suite with teapots and coffeepots seems to have been common in Philadelphia, although the custom is rarely encountered elsewhere in American silver.

    The talented Quaker silversmith Richard Humphreys was born in Tortola in the British West Indies. Apprenticed to Bancroft Woodcock in Wilmington, Delaware, he opened his own shop in Philadelphia in 1772. Although a relatively small number of objects by him are known, each-like this coffeepot and salver-is extraordinary. After service in the Revolution (for which he was censured by the Quaker Friends), he resumed his craft at “The Sign of the Coffee Pot” on Front Street in 1781 and later at different locations. He is perhaps best known as the maker of a large Neoclassical urn presented to Charles Thomson by the Continental Congress in 1774, when he was elected secretary of that political body, a position he held until 1789. That urn is engraved by James Smither, who may have executed the engraving here.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Engraved "WSS" at base of handle, probably for original owner; inherited about 1935 by Dr. George Clymer, Boston, Massachusetts, from his maternal grand-aunts, Misses Mary and Sally Fisher; lent to the Museum in 1939 by Dr. Clymer; given to the Museum in 1956 by Mrs. Susan Clymer, then of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and Peterborough, New Hampshire.

    Credit Line

    Gift in memory of Dr. George Clymer by his wife, Mrs. Clymer

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 520

    Dimensions

    Overall: 3.2 x 17 cm (1 1/4 x 6 11/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    56.590

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Side chair

    about 1765–85

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    This chair represents the height of the Rococo style in colonial Boston. Closely based on English examples, the chair originally was owned by Moses Gill, of Boston and Princeton, Massachusetts. Gill was a prosperous hardware merchant and a political official who served as lieutenant governor and acting governor of Massachusetts. He was married to Nicholas Boylston’s sister Rebecca, whose portrait is on view in the Copley Gallery.

    Inscription

    Rear seat rail is incised "VI" Slip-seat frame incised "V" A brass plaque attached to the chair reads: “This chair belonged to Lieut Gov Moses Gill Bought by Gen Sylvanus Lazell in 1800 (all caps no periods) Inherited by (small caps) Hon. (this underside of rear seat rail) Nahun Mitchell / James Henry Mitchell / Jennet Orr (Mitchell) Copeland / Alices Ames (Copeland) Draper / Ruth Sumner (Draper) Peters.”

    Provenance

    History of ownership: Moses Gill (1734-1800), Lieutenant Governor Massachusetts; 1800, by purchase to General Sylvanus Lazell (May 17, 1752-October 10, 1827), Bridgewater (Plymouth), Massachusetts; 1827, inherited by John Nahum Mitchell (Feb. 12, 1769-April 1, 1853), Harvard Class of 1789, and his wife Nabby (daughter of Gen. Lazell) ; 1853, by inheritance ti their son, James Henry Mitchell; to Jennet Orr (Mitchell) Copeland; to Alice Ames (Copeland) Draper; to Ruth Sumner (Draper) Peters; August 1994, inherited by the donor, Priscilla Q. (Mrs. Lothrop W.) Weld, Duxbury, Massachusetts (Accession Date March 27, 1996)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Priscilla Quincy Weld in memory of her mother and grandmother, Ruth Draper Peters and Alice Ames Draper, and Elizabeth Marie Paramino Fund in memory of John F. Paramino, Boston Sculptor, Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund, Ernest Kahn Fund, John Wheelock Elliott and John Morse Elliott Fund, Alice M. Bartlett Fund, and Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 97.2 x 62.5 x 47.9 cm (38 1/4 x 24 5/8 x 18 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1996.52

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, soft maple, red oak

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

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  • Side chair

    about 1770
    Attributed to Nathaniel Gould (American, 1734–1781)

    Object Place: Salem, Massachusetts

    Description

    In addition to immigrant craftsmen and imported objects, engraved furniture designs were an important means of transmission of the Rococo style from England to America. This chair is based largely on a plate in Thomas Chippendale’s “Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director” (London, 1762). Although copies of the “Director” were owned in New England, few surviving examples of furniture relate closely to the book’s designs. This chair is an important exception, demonstrating the influence of imported pattern and design books in colonial Boston.

    Inscription

    "N.E.Boyd" in script, modern, on underside of rear seat rail in white paint,representing an earlier owner.

    Provenance

    Mr. N. E. Boyd; purchased from Mr. Boyd in December 1949 by Vincent Dyckman Andrus (1915-1972), Greenwich, Connecticut, former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; by descent to his wife, Dorelle Moulton Andrus (1917-2002); purchased in 2004 from Bernard and S. Dean Levy, Inc., New York (Accession Date December 15, 2004)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds by exchange from Gift of Mary W. Bartol, John W. Bartol, and Abigail W. Clark, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Weller, Bequest of Mrs. Stephen S. FitzGerald, Bequest of Dr. Samuel A. Green, Gift of Gilbert L. Steward, Jr., Gift of Mrs. Daniel Risdon, Gift of Miss Elizabeth Clark in memory of Mary R. Crowninshield, Gift of Mrs. Clark McIlwaine, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Russell W. Knight—Collection of Ralph E. and Myra T. Tibbetts, Gift of Elizabeth Shapleigh, Gift of Miss Harriet A. Robeson, Gift of the John Gardner Greene Estate, Bequest of Barbara Boylston Bean, Gift of Miss Catherine W. Faucon, Gift of Jerrold H. Barnett and Joni Evans Barnett, and Gift of Dr. Martha M. Eliot

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 93.3 x 56.5 x 45.7 cm (36 3/4 x 22 1/4 x 18 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.2062

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, maple, pine

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

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  • Cathedra (bishop's chair)

    1880–1905

    Object Place: Mexico

    Description

    Large, heavily carved armchair with cabriole legs featuring grotesque masks on all four knees and terminating in claw-and-ball feet; elaborately carved front seat rail with inverted shell between two foliate scrolls emanating from masks; carved rear stiles terminate in reverse scroll; arms bear foliate carving on outer side and terminate in scrolled hand-holds; crest rail formed of compound curves; carved sun surrounded by foliate scrolls on outside of back; modern leather upholstery secured with twenty-five (out of seventy) original brass nails.

    Provenance

    1906, probably sold by the Sonora News Company, Mexico City; 1980, purchased from William J. Carpenter Wholesale Furniture and Antiques, Lynn and Chelsea, Massachusetts, by the MFA.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Landon T. Clay and Harriet Otis Cruft Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 111.8 x 58.4 x 94cm (44 x 23 x 37in.)

    Accession Number

    1980.171

    Medium or Technique

    Spanish cedar (cedrela odorata, by microanalysis); modern leather upholstery with twenty-five original brass nails and additional replacements

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Teapot

    1760–65
    Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Long before he earned fame as a zealous patriot, Paul Revere Jr. was well known among his contemporaries as a superb silversmith and engraver. He learned his trade from his father, Paul Revere Sr., who had emigrated from France as a young man and apprenticed with noted silversmith John Coney. The younger Revere inherited the shop after his father’s death in 1754, working under his mother’s name until he came of age a year later. The craftsman’s early work shows his quick adoption and mastery of the Rococo style, both in engraving and three-dimensional works in silver.

    This extraordinary teapot is one of the finest surviving Rococo teapots from Boston. The sophisticated double-bellied shape is embellished with raised, chased decoration, as opposed to the more common flat, engraved method. The designs, which were punched out from the interior of the piece, decorate the shoulder of the teapot and form the central cartouche. The iconography includes common Rococo motifs such as C-scrolls, raffles (ruffle-like decoration), and a variety of flowers arranged in an energetic and asymmetrical fashion, as well as a more exotic bird and chinoiserie pavilion. These unusual motifs indicate Revere’s advanced knowledge of, and willingness to experiment with, the Rococo style.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Engraved with Ross crest; motto: "NOBILIS.EST.IRA.LEONIS"

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; John Ross of Philadelphia, m. Clementina Plumstead, daughter of William and Mary (McCall) Plumstead; her sister Miss Plumstead; returned to McCall family; Phoebe (Hoffman) Bickerton, whose mother was a McCall, from whom the piece was bought; given to the Museum in 1935 by the collector Pauline Revere Thayer.

    Credit Line

    Pauline Revere Thayer Collection

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 346

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14.9cm (5 7/8in.)

    Accession Number

    35.1775

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Sons of Liberty Bowl

    1768
    Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the “Glorious Ninety-Two” was a major step leading to the American Revolution. The bowl was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret, revolutionary organization to which Revere belonged; their names are engraved on the bowl as are references to Englishman John Wilkes, whose writing in defense of liberty inspired American patriots. The Liberty Bowl, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have been called the nation’s three most cherished historical treasures. The bowl was purchased by the Museum in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public.

    Inscribed below the rim: “Caleb Hopkins, Nathl barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjn Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichbod Jones, John Homer, Willm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb.”

    One side, in a circle with a scroll and foliated frame topped by a Liberty cap flanked by flags is engraved: “Magna/Charta” and “Bill of/Rights.” Inside the circle is inscribed: “No45. /Wilkes & Liberty” over a torn page labeled “Generall/Warrants.”

    Inscribed on the other side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath above leafy scrolls: “To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members/of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay/who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power/from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES/of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768 /Voted NOT TO RESCIND.”

    Inscription

    Engraved in script below the rim "Caleb Hopkins, Nathl Barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjm Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichabod Jones, John Homer, Wilm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb." On one side in a bright-cut circle with a scroll and foliate frame topped by a Liberty Cap flanked by flags inscribed, respectively, "Magna / Charta" and "Bill of / Rights" is "No 45. / Wilkes & Liberty" over a torn page labeled "Generall Warrants." On the opposite side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath is centered above horizontal and longer vertical leafy scrolls partly enclosing the famous inscription, "To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members / of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay, / who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power, / from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES / of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768, / Voted NOT TO RESCIND." There is no lower line for the frame but a vertical device of conjoining open loops in below "TO." Beginning at the right of this scroll has been added since 1875 in script and block letters: "This BOWL commemorative of Events prior to the American Revolution, was purchased of the Associates whose names are inscribed upon its surface, by Wm MACKAY, one of their number, from whom upon the demise of the latter, in Feby 1832, it became the property of Wm MACKAY, his Grandson in direct line, a Resident of the City of New York." In small script beginning under City: "The Associates were Citizens of Boston." On the bottom above the center point: "at whose death in 1873, it / passed into the hands of his / Brother Robt C. MACKAY on Mar. 11, 1902 / transferred it to MARIAN LINCOLN PERRY / of Providence, Rhode Island / a great great grand-daughter of JOHN MARSTON / one of the fifteen associates."

    Provenance

    : See inscription. When the bowl was to be sold in 1948, Mark Bortman of Boston headed a committee to purchase the piece for the Museum. Purchased from Marsden J. Perry of Providence in January 1949 for $52,500.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution and Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) Other (Base): 14.8cm (5 13/16in.)

    Accession Number

    49.45

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

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  • Fruit basket

    1771–72
    American China Manufactory ((active 1770–1772) of Gousse Bonnin (about 1741–1780) and George Anthony Morris (1742/5–1773))

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    The American China Manufactory was the first and only financially successful porcelain factory in the colonies. Opened in Philadelphia with great public fanfare and patriotic sentiment, the factory produced its first wares in late 1770. However, although its porcelain adorned the most fashionable tables, the business venture failed in less than two years. The factory could not compete with the flood of cheap imports that continued to enter American ports-regardless of the patriotic support espoused (but perhaps not practiced) by many.

    Provenance

    Daniel Whitehead (1751-1792); to Thomas Willett Whitehead (1790-1871); to Annie Whitehead (married Horace G. Richards); to their children, Horace Gordon Richards and Marie Richards; purchased by MFA, 1977.

    Credit Line

    Frederick Brown Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other: 6.8 x 17.5 cm (2 11/16 x 6 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1977.621

    Medium or Technique

    Soft-paste porcelain, underglaze blue decoration

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics, Porcelain

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  • Covered goblet (pokal)

    1785–95
    Attributed to New Bremen Glassmanufactory of John Frederick Amelung (Glassmanufactory, active 1784–1795; Amelung, American, born in Germany, 1741–1798)

    Object Place: Frederick County, Maryland, United States

    Description

    Large covered goblet or pokal of blown, non-lead glass of gray tint; the bowl of deep ogee shape having two rows of air beads in its solid base; inverted baluster stem; high domed foot; pontil mark. The inset cover has a trailed ring to rest on bowl rim, and a wide baluster finial with tear.


    Owing to technical challenges and the expense of glassmaking, most window and table glass was imported from England. In 1784, however, Amelung, German entrepreneur and glassmaker, arrived in Maryland with skilled workmen, technical expertise, and financial backing from merchants in Bremen, Germany. For the next decade, Amelung’s New Bremen factory-perhaps the largest industrial enterprise in the country-produced such beautiful and ambitious glass objects as this goblet made for a Pennsylvania church. Despite its artistic success, New Bremen was forced into bankruptcy, undermined by the vast influx of inexpensive, English glass.

    Provenance

    Believed to have been made for the Evangelical Reformed and Lutheran congregation of Bender's Church, Biglerville, Pennsylvania, founded ca, 1781 about forty miles north of New Bremen; to a private individual about 1926-27 when that union congregation was dissolved; in a private Pittsburgh collection by 1991; purchased by the Museum from W.M. Schwind, Jr., Antiques, Yarmouth, Maine, in 1994.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by The Seminarians and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel F. Morley

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 31.4 x 11.4 cm (12 3/8 x 4 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1994.82a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Non-lead glass, free blown

    On View

    Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Glass

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  • Chest-on-chest

    1782
    John Cogswell (American, 1738–1818)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Signed and dated on the top of its lower case, this imposing chest represents the finest furniture made in Boston toward the end of the American Revolution. Its bombé (swelled base) form and claw-and-ball feet are conservative, reflecting the Rococo style that had been popular in America since the 1750s. Its restrained line and refined carving are more closely aligned with the Neoclassical style, which would dominate taste after the war. According to family tradition, Cogswell, one of Boston’s leading cabinetmakers, made this piece for John Derby, the son of Elias Hasket Derby, for use in his room at Harvard College.

    Signed

    Signed on top of lower section "Made by John / Cogswell in middle street / Boston 1782"; Signed on inside surface of back board of lower case: "J. Cogswel"

    Provenance

    By tradition, made for John Derby (Elias Hasket Derby's grandson) of Salem when he went to Harvard College; by descent in the family until its purchase by the Museum in 1973.

    Credit Line

    William Francis Warden Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    246.38 x 112.39 x 59.69 cm (97 x 44 1/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1973.289

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, white pine

    On View

    Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Chest-on-chest

    1806–09
    Design and carving attributed to Samuel McIntire (American, 1757–1811)

    Object Place: Salem, Massachusetts

    Description

    A masterpiece of American furniture, this is likely the “Case of mahogany drawers $55” listed in the inventory as being in “Madame Derby’s” bedchamber. The carving is indicative of McIntire’s late career, when his skills were at their height. The central basket brimming with flowers and the allegorical figure of America appear elsewhere in his carving, as do the urns, which relate to his carving above the door in the Oak Hill parlor. Elizabeth Derby’s interest in the neoclassical style, in symbols of America, and in preserving the traditions of her distinguished family is clear in this chest. The overall form-inspired by eighteenth-century, Rococo case furniture-also relates to other examples of this form purchased from Boston and Salem craftsmen by members of the Derby family.

    Provenance

    Said to have been made for Elizabeth Derby West; by descent in the Derby family of Salem to the Curtis family of Boston; purchased in 1939 for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts from nine members of the Curtis family, including Miss Frances G. Curtis; Gift of Maxim Karolik, 1941.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 41

    Dimensions

    Overall: 229.6 x 118.7 cm (90 3/8 x 46 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    41.580

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer, ebony and satinwood inlay, pine

    On View

    James and Darcy Marsh Gallery (Gallery 121D)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Lady's writing table with tambour shutters

    Tambour desk

    1793–96
    John Seymour (American (born in England), 1738–1818), Thomas Seymour (American (born in England), 1771–1848)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Tall desk of tambour form, recessed upper section enclosed by sliding tambour doors, flanked by inlaid pilasters, which open to reveal on each side three pigeonholes with Gothic arches and blue-green paint above tier of small drawers fitted with ring pulls; lower case contains folding writing section above three graduated drawers; tapered legs with scrolled knee brackets terminate in spade feet; brasses replaced


    Few pieces made by the Seymours are marked, labeled, or otherwise signed. This desk retains its original paper label (on the the backboard), giving the name of the firm and advertising its location on Creek Square, in Boston. Today, this object usually is called a tambour desk because of its use of tambour doors enclosing the interior in the upper case. These doors consist of vertical strips of satinwood glued to a linen backcloth; each shutter slides in a groove that runs across the front, sides, and part of the back of the upper case. When open, the tambour doors reveal twelve small drawers and six pigeonholes.

    Inscription

    Paper label on back reads: "JOHN SEYMOUR & SON, / CABINET MAKERS, / CREEK SQUARE / BOSTON" Paper owner's lable of George Alfred Cluett Jr. is pasted to the interior of a lower-case drawer. In pencil: pairs of numbers in the interior corners of upper-case drawers.

    Provenance

    Original owner unknown; in collection of Francis Hill Bigelow, Cambridge, Mass., by 1925; sold in that year to George A. Cluett; descended in the Cluett family to Mark Cluett; on loan to Historic Deerfield, about 1964-74; from the family to the dealer; by sale to the Museum, 2000 (Accession date June 21, 2000)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously, Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund, and by exchange from the Bequest of George Nixon Black, Bequest of Mrs. Charles R. Codman, and Gift of Mrs. Ruth K. Richardson

    Details

    Dimensions

    128.27 x 101.6 x 53.34 cm (50 1/2 x 40 x 21 in.)

    Accession Number

    2000.636

    Medium or Technique

    Satinwood and curly satinwood veneer, eastern white pine, black ash, black walnut, cedar, cherry, light- and dark-wood inlays, brass

    On View

    Prudence S. and William M. Crozier, Jr. Gallery (Gallery 121)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Teapot

    1796
    Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    After a hiatus in his silversmithing business during the Revolution, Paul Revere returned to his craft about 1780. Soon his shop began producing silver in the newest taste, using the latest technology. This fluted teapot, for example, is probably based on similar English works in silver, fused plate (also called Sheffield plate), or ceramic wares, and it is made of rolled sheet silver. Bending sheets of thin silver, produced in rolling mills, into a desired form and soldering them together took less time and effort than the traditional, more laborious method of raising a vessel from an ingot with repeated hammer blows. Here, Revere decorated the teapot with dotted and bright-cut bands over tasseled festoons at top and bottom, all in the latest Neoclassical style.

    Revere entered a charge for this teapot in his account book on June 18, 1796, noting its sale to Jonathan Hunnewell, a mason and distinguished citizen of Boston. As was common, the intrinsic value of the silver (at 7 shillings per ounce for a total value of £7.1.0) was roughly equivalent to the price Revere charged for making and engraving the vessel (£7.10.0), bringing the total cost to £14.11.0. Hunnewell also ordered a stand for the teapot and a sugar basket, twelve teaspoons, sugar tongs, and four salt shovels.

    Hunnewell and Revere were friends. Each was an active member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Society, a mutual aid organization founded in 1795; Revere was the first president and Hunnewell the second.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Jonathan Hunnewell; subsequent history unknown; given to the Museum in 1935 by the collector Pauline Revere Thayer.

    Credit Line

    Pauline Revere Thayer Collection

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 405

    Dimensions

    14.92 cm (5 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    35.1779

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Tea and Coffee Service

    about 1790–1800
    Christian Wiltberger (American, 1766–1851)

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

    Description

    Provenance

    Descended from Captain Bernard and Mary Raser, great-grandparents of the donor.

    Credit Line

    Gift of John H. Farovid in memory of Bertha Sease Farovid, Mary Vincent Farovid, and Bishop John Heyl Farovid

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Buhler, 1972, No. 534

    Accession Number

    61.949-952

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Side chair

    about 1795–1799

    Object Place: Probably Salem, massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Painted oval-back frame and upholstered seat


    This painted chair and the one exhibited nearby are believed to be part of a set originally owned by Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby, who gave them to his daughter Elizabeth Derby West, for Oak Hill (three rooms from the house are on this level). Painted either brown or white, the chairs were richly embellished with floral bouquets or peacock feathers.

    Provenance

    Owned originally by Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799) of Salem, Massachusetts; descended in Derby, West, and Lander families; apparently acquired by Martha Codman Karolik from Mr. Charles R. Rogers, New Canaan, Connecticut; part of the M. and M. Karolik Collection.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 104

    Dimensions

    Overall: 98.4 x 55.2 x 48.3 cm (38 3/4 x 21 3/4 x 19 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.108

    Medium or Technique

    Beech, maple, oak

    On View

    C. Kevin and G. Barrie Landry Gallery (Gallery 126)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Side chair (one of a pair)

    1804–10
    Probably by Thomas Seymour (American (born in England), 1771–1848), and Possibly John Seymour (American (born in England), 1738–1818)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    This chair and its pair, exhibited nearby, were based on a design in “London Chair-Maker’ and Carvers’ Book of Prices for Workmanship” (1802). The Seymours brought this design to life by playing light satinwood or birch veneers against dark mahogany. The crest rail with its carved, turned, and veneered elements; the delicate tracery of the back rails; and the raking front legs demonstrate the Seymours’s impressive technical skill. Their shop was the only one in Boston known to have produced a chair of this complex design; they issued it in several variations.

    Provenance

    Purchased from Antiques Gallery (Jacobs); gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maxim Karolik for "The"M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts" (Accession Date October 9, 1941)

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 116

    Dimensions

    Overall: 88.9 x 48.3 x 40.6 cm (35 x 19 x 16 in.)

    Accession Number

    41.610a

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, crotch-satinwood or birch veneer, birch

    On View

    Prudence S. and William M. Crozier, Jr. Gallery (Gallery 121)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Side chair

    about 1808–12
    Samuel Gragg (1772–1855)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    A bentwood chair formed of steamed members, with the curved stiles, seat rails, and front legs being one continuous member. The back is composed of five vertical bars, which curve down to form every second member of the seat. The other six bars of the seat are dovetailed to the front and back rails. There is a curved and pierced stretcher between the front legs, which are of S-form. The rear legs are strongly raked, and there are double dowel stretchers on the sides and back.

    The entire chair is painted a tawny color with linear decoration in brown and tan. The stiles have pendent green leaves at the top and the central bar of the back is slightly wider than its companions and is painted with a peacock feather. Both front and back seat rails are striped in shades of brown, as is the panel on the front stretcher.

    The seat rails are of heavy stock with the dovetails cut into their upper surface. They are double screwed to the continuous stile-rail, and the five back bars are screwed to the rear seat rail.


    Experimentation in forms, materials, and techniques was a dominant theme in nineteenth-century American woodworking, as craftsmen and manufacturers sought to improve upon tradition. This side chair, which gives with the weight of a sitter but always returns to its original shape when unoccupied, is an early manifestation of this interest.

    The chair’s maker, Samuel Gragg, received a patent for an “elastic chair” on August 31, 1808. Gragg adapted the ancient practice of bending wood with moisture and heat to create his sinuous chairs in keeping with classical Greek forms, as interpreted through the latest English pattern books by Thomas Hope, George Smith, and others. Daringly, Gragg achieved the chair’s striking compound-curve design by steaming a single piece of wood to serve as the rear upper post, or stile, seat rail, and front leg on each side. The back supports are similarly bold, as are the strongly raking rear legs, curved stretchers between the legs, and other elements that complete the elegant lines.

    The decoration of the chair, probably executed by a specialist, is as fashionable as the construction is innovative. Painted a tawny color overall, the chair is accented with striping in shades of brown. The stiles have pendant green leaves at their apex, while the wider central back support is embellished with a skillfully painted, wispy peacock feather. In form and decoration, this chair represents an early manifestation of the “Fancy” style, popularized from 1790 to 1840 and characterized by attention-grabbing shapes and ornament inspired by the imagination.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Beneath the seat rail is branded: S. GRAGG / BOSTON / PATENT

    Provenance

    Purchased by the Museum in 1961 from the dealer Harry Arons of Ansonia, Connecticut (Accession Date October 11, 1961)

    Credit Line

    Charles Hitchcock Tyler Residuary Fund

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Randall 183

    Dimensions

    86.7 x 45.7 x 50.8 cm (34 1/8 x 18 x 20 in.)

    Accession Number

    61.1074

    Medium or Technique

    Painted ash, hickory

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Fall-front desk (secrétaire à abbattant)

    1813–25
    Thomas Emmons (American, active 1813–1825), George Archbald (American, active 1813–1834), Emmons & Archbald (working 1813–1824)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The firm of Thomas Emmons and George Archibald, active between 1813 and Emmons’s death in 1825, was a leader in Boston furniture making in the years after the War of 1812. Worthy successors to John and Thomas Seymour, the partners produced fashionable mahogany furniture in the French Empire style, including this fall-front desk (or secrétaire à abbatant) bearing their stenciled label.

    Made in the restrained French taste, this secretary is characteristic of the elegant nature of Emmons and Archibald’s work and of Boston furniture in this period. Carefully selected mahogany veneers and superbly carved hairy-paw feet provide points of visual interest to the largely rectilinear, vertical form. Brass caps and bases accent the columns at each side of the case, while a floral escutcheon surrounds the lock on the fall-front. According to their advertisement in a Boston newspaper on June 1, 1825, the firm’s stock-in-trade included “a variety of elegant French CAPS and BASES, Rings, Knobs, and other Ornaments” that may have been imported from France.

    The Emmons and Archibald establishment at 39 Orange (later Washington) Street had a three-story warehouse, “commodiously arranged for exhibiting furniture,” a thirteen-room dwelling house with yard and outbuildings, and “in the rear very extensive workshops with suitable fixtures and a large space protected from the sun for seasoning mahogany.” The extent of the enterprise is indicated by the eleven workbenches located in the shop, where journeymen and apprentices labored at their tasks.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    Stencilled label inside central interior drawer and on top drawer: "EMMONS & ARCHBALD / No. 39 Orange Street / BOSTON / Cabinet Chair Upholstery / Manufactory"

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; purchased by the Museum in 1985 from New England Gallery, Inc., Andover, Massachusetts (Accession Date: June 26, 1985)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by a Friend of the Department and Otis Norcross Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 153.7 x 97.8 x 49.5 cm (60 1/2 x 38 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1985.335

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, mahogany veneer

    On View

    Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Commode

    1809
    Made by Thomas Seymour (American (born in England), 1771–1848), and Possibly James Cogswell (American, 1780–1862), Carving attributed to Thomas Wightman (American, active 1802–1820), Painted by John Ritto Penniman (American, 1782–1841)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Thomas Seymour sold this spectacular commode to Elizabeth Derby West, daughter of the wealthy merchant Elias Hasket Derby, for her home, Oak Hill, in South Danvers, Massachusetts. The son of English immigrant cabinetmaker John Seymour, Thomas Seymour had strong connections to a network of native and immigrant craftsmen. The commode was the ambitious collaborative undertaking of highly skilled artisans offering the finest level of materials and craftsmanship available in Boston, rivaling any in the United States.

    Seymour’s design is a sophisticated interpretation of the English style. Although the bright, highly figured veneers are flamboyant, the form is restrained and elegant. Shaped fronts were common on case furniture of this period, but the semielliptical plan of this commode presented an unusual challenge. The eight wedge-shaped side drawers swing open on hinges, with no interior space wasted. Each one added a considerable amount of work and expense, demonstrating that Seymour lavished attention on even the smallest details of construction, making this piece one of the finest examples of his craft.

    The commode’s rounded top offered an opportunity for a showy radial display of contrasting mahogany and birch veneers. The highlight, however, is the design of seashells and leaves skillfully rendered by the decorative painter John Ritto Penniman. A receipt dated 1809 documents the work: “Large Mahogany Comode, [$]80.00. / Paid Mr. Penniman’s Bill, for Painting Shels on Top of Do [ditto] [$]10.00.” The crisp, confident carving of the blossoms at the tops of the colonettes and the patterned lower edge of the case is attributed to another English immigrant craftsman, Thomas Wightman, who is mentioned on the same receipt. Thomas Seymour and his partner James Cogswell brought together their best resources to make this outstanding example of American Neoclassical furniture, and Elizabeth Derby West spared no expense in obtaining it.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Made for Elizabeth Derby West, Danvers, Massachusetts, in 1809; descended through the family to Martha C. Codman (m. Maxim Karolik); Gift of Martha and Maxim Karolik, 1923. From R. Mussey catalog: Sideboard descended from Elizabeth Derby West to her granddaughter Louisa Lander. It was then purchased from her by her cousin Martha C. Codman.

    Credit Line

    The M. and M. Karolik Collection of Eighteenth-Century American Arts

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    Eighteenth-Century American Arts No. 42

    Dimensions

    Overall: 105.4 x 62.5 x 127 cm (41 1/2 x 24 5/8 x 50 in.)

    Accession Number

    23.19

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany; mahogany, crotch-mahogany, crotch-birch, rosewood, and bird's-eye-maple veneers; satinwood and rosewood crossbanding; eastern white pine, white ash, maple; brass

    On View

    Prudence S. and William M. Crozier, Jr. Gallery (Gallery 121)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Girandole wall clock

    1816–21
    Lemuel Curtis (1790–1857)

    Object Place: Concord, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    In 1802, Simon Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was granted a patent for the production of “Willard’s Patent Time Pieces,” an immensely popular wall clock. Lemuel Curtis, like many clockmakers in New England, had links, both familial and professional, with the seminal Willard shop. After completing his apprenticeship, probably with Simon Willard, Curtis opened his own shop in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1811, where he produced timepieces until he departed for Vermont in 1821. Memoirist Edward Jarvis, in his early reminiscences of Concord, recalled that Curtis’s shop was “thirty feet long and ten or twelve feet wide. In a room on the left side he repaired and had a small jewelry store. The rest he used by himself, his men and apprentices as a manufactory of his timepieces.”

    The Museum’s girandole wall clock (named for its use of convex glass in the base section) is a type patented by Curtis in 1816 in his attempt to make a more technologically advanced and aesthetically pleasing model that would surpass the influential Willard version. This example is exceptional for its beautifully rendered image of Marriage depicted in reverse painting on glass (eglomisé), an extraordinarily difficult technique. Curtis asserted in a Boston Intelligencer advertisement from April 12, 1817, “Upon the exteriour [of his clocks] the exertions of genius and taste have not been spared, or any expence,” adding that they received “the approbation of the first artists in the United States” and that they were “the best moddeled, and proportioned, and surpassing, in elegance of appearance, any timepiece ever invented.” Other subjects depicted on his clocks include Commerce and victorious naval engagements from the War of 1812, fitting themes for “Meeting Houses, Banks, Parlours and other rooms.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Oval painted scene labeled: "MARRIAGE."

    Markings

    Dail painted: "L. Curtis / Patent" Glass panel, in script on banner: : "L. Curtis Patent"

    Provenance

    According to a family tradition, "Count Rumford's first cousin gave this clock to Mrs. Cabot's grandfather in payment of a legal fee." By descent through the Cabot family to Mrs. Charles J. White; by descent to her daughter, Mrs. Charles C. Cabot, Dover, Mass., in 1965; 1977, lent by Mrs. Charles C. Cabot; Gift of Mrs. Charles C. Cabot, Westwood, Mass., 1991 (Accession Date March 27, 1991)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Charles C. Cabot in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Charles J. White

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 116.8 x 34.9 x 14.6 cm (46 x 13 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1991.241

    Medium or Technique

    Carved, painted, and gilded wood; brass; reverse glass painting

    On View

    C. Kevin and G. Barrie Landry Gallery (Gallery 126)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Clocks

    More Info
  • Bishop mug

    Footed mug

    about 1821–25
    Thomas Cains (1779–1865), For Phoenix Glass Works (active about 1824–about 1870), Or South Boston Flint Glass Works (active about 1812–about 1836)

    Object Place: South Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Large free-blown footed mug, with circular foot and flat, bulbous stem supporting a wide vase-shaped body; body decorated with five bands of chain decoration on lower portion and applied threading near top; free-blown ear-shaped handle is applied; contains 1821 quarter in the hollow knop of the stem


    Thomas Cains, the son of a Gloucestershire glassblower, was apprenticed at the Phoenix Glassworks of Wadham, Ricketts, and Company in Bristol, England. As part of an initiative to attract skilled glassmakers to the United States, he was secretly recruited by Charles F. Kupfer, an agent of the Boston Glass Manufactory. Cains arrived in Boston in April 1812, just before the beginning of the War of 1812. After the war’s end in 1815, Cains utilized his expertise to produce a full line of table glassware at the South Boston Flint Glass Works. Later, he established a new enterprise, eventually called the Phoenix Glass Works, perhaps after his old company in England, and this mug may have been made there in the early 1820s.

    This large footed mug is embellished with applied bands of chain decoration-generally regarded as a characteristic of Cains’s glass-around the widest section of the lower body. An 1821 American silver quarter dollar is housed within its hollow stem, an unusual feature strongly associated with Cains’s work. The mug and another piece of glass descended directly in the family of Thomas Cains to his great-great-grandson, whose children gave them to the MFA in honor of their father. This important history elevates the mug into a virtual Rosetta stone for identifying other pieces of Cains’s chain-decorated glass. Always known in the family as the “Bishop’s Mug,” the vessel-possibly a presentation piece-was probably used to serve a beverage known as bishop, a mulled port wine flavored with roasted oranges and cloves.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Descended through the artist's family. Placed on loan to the Museum on August 9, 1972, by William L. Johnston, Winchester, Mass.; descended to his wife Catherine M. Johnston in 1991-92; given to the Museum by their children in 1995.

    Credit Line

    Gift of William, Nancy and Malcolm in Loving memory of their father William L. Johnston, Great-Great-Grandson of Thomas Cains

    Details

    Dimensions

    23.81 x 21.27 cm (9 3/8 x 8 3/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1995.765

    Medium or Technique

    Colorless free-blown flint glass, applied decoration; one coin

    On View

    Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Glass

    More Info
  • Square pier table with canted corners (one of a pair)

    about 1815–20
    Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (American (born in Scotland), 1770–1854)

    Object Place: New York, New York

    Description

    In the second decade of the nineteenth century, New York City cabinetmakers produced a variety of sculptural furniture featuring three-dimensional winged caryatids, swans, eagles, dolphins, and, as seen here, mythological griffins (or gryphons). Charles-Honoré Lannuier, Duncan Phyfe, and the firm of Barzilla Deming and Erastus Bulkley were among the leading producers of these classical forms derived from English and French design books issued by Thomas Hope, George Smith, Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Lèonard Fontaine, Pierre de la Mésangère, and others.

    This pier table (one of a pair) is part of a group of griffin furniture produced by an as-yet-unidentified shop. Often associated in the past with Lannuier, more recent scholarship has tentatively suggested that the group might have come from Phyfe’s shop. Careful conservation of this table revealed the original burnished gold leaf on the eagle heads and the green paint (antique vert) on the lion bodies. The gold-leaf ornamental detail around the table’s top is typical of New York workmanship and represents a less expensive alternative to imported French ormolu (gilded brass or bronze) mounts.

    Griffins (called by Aeschylus “the hounds of Zeus, who never bark, with beaks like birds”) combine the head and wings of an eagle with the body of a lion. The example on this table is similar to one depicted in plate 5 (part D) in The New-York Book of Prices for Manufacturing Cabinet and Chair Work, published in 1817. Such carved figures were an expensive option for this type of stylish furniture.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    By 1974/1975, Parke-Bernet auction, New York; 1974/75, Purchased at auction by Bernard & S. Dean Levy, Inc, New York, working on behalf of the Museum, with funds provided by the William N. Banks Foundation (Accession Date March 12, 1975)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by the W. N. Banks Foundation

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 84.5 x 101.6 x 48.3 cm (33 1/4 x 40 x 19 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.274

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood veneer, mahogany veneer, mahogany, white pine, yellow-poplar, paint, brass, marble

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Tables, stands, screens

    More Info
  • Grecian couch

    about 1820
    Attributed to Hugh Finlay (American (born in Ireland), 1781–1831)

    Object Place: Baltimore, Maryland

    Description

    The brothers John and Hugh Finlay first advertised their wares in the Baltimore Federal Gazette of January 25, 1803. For nearly the next four decades, sometimes working together and sometimes singly, they provided the citizens of that growing and thriving city with such high-style painted furniture as this Grecian couch. At one time, their shop employed as many as sixty-eight craftsmen, including thirty men, thirteen boys, and twenty-five women. They remained current with the changing modes of Neoclassicism; Hugh Finlay, to whom this couch is attributed, even traveled for several months of 1810 in Europe, where he acquired “a number of Drawings, from furniture in the first houses in Paris and London” that he shipped back to his Baltimore shop to use as sources of inspiration for customers seeking “the most approved articles” of furniture.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    1988, purchased from E.J. Canton, Lutherville, Maryland (Accession Date December 21, 1988)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Amos B. Hostetter, Jr., Anne and Joseph P. Pellegrino, Mr. and Mrs. Peter S. Lynch, Mr. William N. Banks, Jr., Eddy G. Nicholson, Mr. and Mrs. John Lastavica, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel F. Morley, and Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    90.8 x 232.4 x 61.6 cm (35 3/4 x 91 1/2 x 24 1/4 in. )

    Accession Number

    1988.530

    Medium or Technique

    Yellow-poplar, cherry, white pine; rosewood graining and gilded painting; partial original foundation and new foundation materials, cover, and trim

    On View

    Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Desk and bookcase

    about 1830
    Anthony G. Quervelle (American (born in France), 1789–1856)

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Description

    In two sections: the top bookcase with acanthus carved broken cornice above a conforming highly figured mahogany frieze above a pair of cabinet doors with gothic tracery flanked by tapering columns resembling quivers with carved, gilt and painted capitals resembling the feather ends of arrows and the bases comprised of acanthus carved and gilt decorated urns.
    The bottom case having two central short drawers flanked by a pair of quarter round drawers projecting to support the columns above, resting on the case top above a fall front, imitation drawer having on its face a pair of cross banded rectangular panels each with horizontal lozenges in high relief with wooden drawer pulls at thier centers, the drawer opening to a desk, the writing surface with original crimson baize and bird’s eye maple vennered interior with two stacks of three drawers with pressed glass pulls flanking a wider central drawer below a valenced ebonized niche, the drawer stacks with niche punctuated by four narrow nices with gothic valences.
    The desk section flanked by projecting plinths with vertical lozenges in high relief above columns with gilt bronze capitals and bases, flanking a pair of cabinet doors with a fan or sunburst of eight pie-slice shaped sections of flame mahogany veneer, each molded in high relief and each terminating in an elliptical section of burl ash at the outer end and a demi-lune burl-ash “sun” at the apex, the design framed by a proscenium arch formed of a thin wreath of carved oak leaves with acorns and having a stylized carved anthemions in the spandrels. The doors above a coved and gadrooned shelf flanked by plain plinths raised on short acanthus carved paw feet with short turned maple feet in back.


    Born and trained as a cabinetmaker in France, Anthony Quervelle was in Philadelphia by 1817. He quickly became one of the most important and prolific Philadelphia craftsmen working in the late Neoclassical style, boasting in one advertisement to have “the largest and most fashionable assortment of furniture ever yet offered for sale in this city.” The craftsman enhanced his reputation by winning recognition at several mechanical arts competitions, including the Franklin Institute’s exhibition in 1827 where he was awarded a silver medal for a closely related desk and bookcase.

    Quervelle merged French motifs learned during his early training, probably in Napoleon’s imperial workshops, with British forms that were popular in his adopted city. In this majestic desk and bookcase he combines the massive, architectonic form and richly grained woods derived from British designs, with tapered columns, anthropomorphic paw feet, and radiating fan doors that add a French flair. The rounded, inlaid rays of the fan doors made of exquisite mahogany and bird’s-eye maple are particularly noteworthy for their technical achievement, as are the carved, veneered, and gilded elements that lavishly ornament the piece. Quervelle also demonstrated his sure grasp of the latest styles by using newly fashionable Gothic arches on the glass doors and interior desk pigeonholes, and pressed glass knobs on the interior drawers.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; around mid-1970s, a couple in Philadelphia purchased the piece, saying it came out of a home in Germantown, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia); this couple (name unknown at present) owned it until sold to Carswell Rush Berlin, Inc., New York, New York, in May 2004, purchased by the MFA (Accession Date: September 22, 2004)

    Credit Line

    Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 259.7 x 125.1 x 61 cm (102 1/4 x 49 1/4 x 24 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.562

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, bird's-eye maple, burl ash, yellow-poplar, white pine, cedar, maple, glass, pressed-glass

    On View

    Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Orpheus and Cerberus

    1843
    Thomas Crawford (American, about 1813–1857)

    Object Place: Rome, Italy

    Description

    After studying with the world-renowned Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen, Thomas Crawford modeled his first major sculpture, Orpheus and Cerberus, in clay and plaster while in Rome in 1839. Its subject came from the tenth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Orpheus lulls to sleep the three-headed hellhound Cerberus by playing the lyre, and then rushes past the beast through the gates of Hades in search of his wife Eurydice. For the figure of Orpheus, Crawford was inspired by what was long believed to be the most important masterpiece of antique sculpture, the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican. Many Americans were introduced to this type of classical sculpture through Orpheus and Cerberus.

    George Washington Greene, American consul in Rome, and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts were among the admirers of Crawford’s work. Sumner successfully encouraged Bostonians to pay by subscription for a marble version of the sculpture, which Crawford completed by 1843. Boston’s Orpheus and Cerberus, in pristine Seravezza marble, was first exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, where it was enthusiastically received and helped launch Crawford’s career. It remained there until 1872, when it went on “permanent loan” to the Museum of Fine Arts. It was installed at the entrance of the new Museum building, which opened its doors in Copley Square in 1876. Orpheus and Cerberus became part of the Museum’s collection in 1975, as the gift, fittingly, of Cornelius and Emily Vermeule, scholars of classical art who recognized the work’s seminal importance in the history of nineteenth-century American sculpture.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Boston Athenaeum; lent to Museum in 1872.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds by exchange from a Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius C. Vermeule III

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 171.5 x 91.4 x 137.2 cm, 1061.4 kg (67 1/2 x 36 x 54 in., 2340 lb.) Mount (Two Tier steel base with wheels each level upper level (A): 43.2 x 134.3 x 160 cm (17 x 52 7/8 x 63 in.) Mount (Two Tier rolling steel base lower level(B)): 52.1 x 134.3 x 160 cm (20 1/2 x 52 7/8 x 63 in.) Framed (3/4" four painted plywood skirts and top ): 1.9 cm (3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.800

    Medium or Technique

    Marble

    On View

    Huntington Vestibule (100.2)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Ewer

    1833
    Baldwin Gardiner (American, 1791–1869)

    Object Place: New York, New York, United States

    Description

    The large, raised, helmet-shaped presentation ewer has a cast and chased scrolled handle with foliate decoration; an air vent is below. Under the flaring spout is chased a large anthemion, on each side of which extends scrolled rinceaux decoration that surrounds the vessel. The rim is edged with die-rolled floral ornamentation. Convex die-rolled midband decoration appears above a gadrooned section; the short stem with a foliate baluster descends to a circular foot embellished with a radiating leaf pattern. A later inscription to the left of the spout has been removed, and the firescale restored.


    This richly ornamented presentation ewer is a grand statement of the Neoclassical mode in early-nineteenth-century America. The frosty and richly repousséd handle, lip, and body, with its anthemia, scrolled rinceaux decoration, and vigorous gadrooning, are elements derived from the French style. Similar to ambitious examples made in the Philadelphia shop of Fletcher and Gardiner (cat. no. 150), this ewer, marked by Baldwin Gardiner, may have been made by an immigrant craftsman who worked in one of these two shops and had the skills and talent to execute silver in the latest mode.
    Baldwin Gardiner was the younger brother of Boston and Philadelphia silversmith Sidney Gardiner. Both men were born in Southold, Long Island, to John Gardiner (1752 – 1823) of that town and Abigail Worth (1760 – 1781) of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Baldwin Gardiner traveled to Boston to apprentice in the shop that his brother operated with Thomas Fletcher; he continued working for them when the firm moved south to Philadelphia in 1811. By 1815 he established a fancy hardware store called Gardiner, Veron & Co. on 98 Chestnut Street. His partner was Lewis Veron (1793 – 1853), a member of the Veron family into which Baldwin Gardiner, his brother Sidney, and Thomas Fletcher married.
    Shortly after the death of Sidney Gardiner in 1827, Baldwin Gardiner moved to New York, where he established a furnishings warehouse called B. Gardiner and Co. He sold imported French plateaus, candelabras, and lamps. By 1832 he was operating a steam-driven silver manufactory. However, not all silver marked by Baldwin Gardiner was completed on site. In 1828 he arranged for Fletcher and Gardiner to complete a commission that was to carry his marks, writing, “I should expect to have my name stamped upon the bottoms.” Such information makes it difficult to ascertain the maker of this presentation ewer dated 1833, which is among the most magnificent examples to display the Baldwin Gardiner mark.
    The extent to which Gardiner shared craftsmen or patrons with Fletcher and Gardiner is unknown, but the quality of some surviving work, and this ewer in particular, suggests that highly skilled craftsmen may have come to New York through his older brother’s shop or that this commission was carried out by his brother’s company after his death in 1827. The touchmark “G” that appears along with two pseudohallmarks is not fully understood.
    Gardiner’s manufactory produced an assortment of flatware including ladles, cheese knives, spoons of varying sizes, and tongs. His mark also appears on a set of knives in the Thread pattern that were also produced by Fletcher and Gardiner. Some larger examples of hollowware also survive, including ewers of similar scale and an elaborate wirework cake or fruit basket. By 1836 Gardiner moved to 39 Nassau, where he sold a variety of domestic ornamental wares, mostly imported from France and England. After a brief period in California in 1848, Gardiner moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he died in 1869.
    The presentation of the ewer to Capt. Hartwell Reed, whose “personal Character and Seaman-like abilities” are extolled in the inscription, celebrated the packet ship’s maiden voyage from New Orleans to New York. The Natchez was one of five new vessels built to increase travel between the two cities. The ship arrived in New York on July 5, but the ewer is engraved July 4, perhaps because that was the date it had been expected in port. Such honors paid to ship captains were not uncommon in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Gardiner produced a ewer in 1834 for Capt. George Maxwell, whose ship Europe traveled from Liverpool to New York.

    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

    Beneath spout in script: "As a Testimonial / of their estimation of his personal Character / and Seaman-like abilities, / the pasengers of the Ship Natchez / on her Voyage from New Orleans to New York, in June 1833, / present this Pitcher / TO / Captain Hartwell Reed, / New York, July 4th 1833"

    Markings

    On bottom is stamped "B [pellet] GARDINER" within a serrated rectangle / [pseudo hallmark of head in rectangle with chamfered corners] G [pseudo hallmark of a lion within a rectangle with chamfered corners].

    Provenance

    Presented on July 4, 1833 to Captain Hartwell Reed by the passengers of the Ship Natchez on the successful completion of their voyage in June of that year from New Orleans to New York; private collector, West Hartford, Connecticut, 1940s; by descent to her daughter; acquired by Hirschl & Adler in 1994; purchased by Museum in 1996.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase in honor of Jonathan Fairbanks on the occasion of the silver anniversary of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture with funds donated by his many friends and supporters

    Details

    Dimensions

    45 x 33 cm (17 11/16 x 13 in.)

    Accession Number

    1996.240

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Kristin and Roger Servison Gallery (Gallery 133)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Castor and Pollux

    about 1847
    Horatio Greenough (American, 1805–1852)

    Object Place: Florence, Italy

    Description

    Greenough, born in Boston, was the first American sculptor to study in Italy. He traveled to Rome in 1825 and settled in Florence, where he trained with Lorenzo Bartolini, who encouraged his students to study human anatomy and to sketch from live models. In classical mythology, Castor and Pollux were twins. Castor was killed in battle, but the god Zeus allowed them to spend alternate days on earth, greeting each other in passing. In this work, Greenough clearly referred to ancient art. He represented the legend in low relief, arranging the figures and horses into a perfectly balanced oval; he also carved the wooden pedestal.

    Provenance

    Mrs. Horatio Greenough, Boston

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Mrs. Horatio Greenough

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 88 x 114.8 x 4.4cm (34 5/8 x 45 3/16 x 1 3/4in.)

    Accession Number

    92.2642

    Medium or Technique

    Marble,with original black walnut frame

    On View

    Lobby into Americans Abroad Gallery (136A)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Buffet

    about 1800
    Attributed to Pierre Antoine Petit dit La Lumière (died 1815)

    Object Place: Vincennes, Indiana, United States

    Description

    By the late seventeenth century, French explorers had traversed what would become the state of Indiana, and by the end of the eighteenth century, French fur-trading posts and small settlements dotted the landscape of the Mississippi River’s upper valley, a large territory known as the Illinois Country. Vincennes was the principal settlement in the area. Its population of more than four hundred residents lived a surprisingly refined style of life that included silver spoons, jewelry, and silk clothing. Settled largely by immigrants from French Canada, Vincennes retained a distinctly French character in its architecture and material culture into the early nineteenth century.

    This buffet is strongly reminiscent of French provincial furniture made in Normandy and elsewhere at a much earlier date. Its sturdy construction and decorative detail, including the form of the paneled doors, the carved sunburst ornament in the center of the skirt, and the shape of the curved skirt and feet, clearly align it with the style of Louis XV. It is fashioned, however, from local woods and retains its original finish of red ocher (iron oxide) paint enriched with streaks of a darker pigment.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    On an interior shelf, added in the mid-nineteenth century to replace the original: "From: / To Sisters of Providence / St. Marys, Vigo Co."

    Provenance

    Original owner unknown; acquired later by Saint Mary's of the Woods, Terre Haute, Indiana, founded in 1828, and owned there until the 1920s; later owned by Greg Spurgeon, Terre Haute, Indiana, and sold to Douglas Solliday, Columbia, Missouri; purchased from Solliday by the Museum in 1989 (Accession Date February 22, 1989) .

    Credit Line

    Gift of Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber and Frank B. Bemis Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    117.47 x 121.92 x 61.59 cm (46 1/4 x 48 x 24 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1989.50

    Medium or Technique

    Yellow-poplar, curly maple, sycamore

    On View

    Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery (Gallery 237)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Pot

    about 1855–59
    J. and E. Norton Pottery (active 1850–1859), Decorated by John Hilfinger (1826–1888)

    Object Place: Bennington, Vermont, United States

    Description

    For more than a hundred years, beginning in the late eighteenth century, the potteries of Bennington, Vermont, produced substantial quantities of utilitarian ceramics in various forms. The Norton Pottery, founded by cousins Julius and Edward Norton, made this stoneware pot for the storage of foodstuffs in the late 1850s. It is stamped with their factory mark and the number 4, indicating its capacity in gallons. Edward Norton was a persuasive salesman, and Norton wares were retailed through stores in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, and even as far afield as Galveston, Texas.

    Improvements in pottery making enabled the Norton Pottery to make cylindrical (in addition to ovoid) forms by 1850. This advancement, involving the use of revolving molds called “jiggers” and “jollies” that allowed for the turning of circular vessels, may have stimulated a concomitant change in decoration, as the flatter surfaces of the resulting objects were easier to embellish. Alternatively, the desire for more richly ornamented objects-perhaps needed to catch the eye in an increasingly competitive marketplace-may have led to the technological developments. Whatever the relationship, the result was an efflorescence of painted Bennington pottery in the 1850s.

    The itinerant artist John Hilfinger may have painted the cobalt blue images on this pot, rendering a spotted standing stag and resting doe amid fences and foliage. Born in Württemberg, Germany, Hilfinger came to America in the mid-nineteenth century, and during his career he decorated ceramics from Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York potteries in his characteristic exuberant manner. As a blend of Yankee technology and immigrant artistry, the Norton pot is an outstanding expression of a common melding of influences in American decorative arts.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    In the collection of the donor; given to the Museum in 1993.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Lloyd E. Hawes in memory of Nina Fletcher Little

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 29.8 x 36.8 x 34.3 cm (11 3/4 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1993.546

    Medium or Technique

    Stoneware with cobalt-blue decoration

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Stoneware

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  • Storage jar

    1857
    Dave Drake (or Dave the Potter) (American, about 1800–about 1870), Made for Lewis J. Miles Pottery

    Object Place: Edgefield County, South Carolina, United States

    Description

    Large bulbous food storage jar with open neck, handles on each side, brown alkaline glaze with irregular greenish streaks.


    The Edgefield District of South Carolina, noted for its fine and abundant clays, is one of the South’s leading pottery-making areas. In the years before the Civil War, many of the workers in the area’s potteries were enslaved black men and women. One of these slaves, known for most of his life simply as “Dave the Potter,” was a skilled craftsman who produced aesthetically pleasing and technically accomplished stoneware vessels between about 1830 and 1864. That part of Dave’s story is not necessarily unusual; what is unusual is that Dave was literate and, for whatever reason, his owners allowed him to sign his work. This vessel, for example, is signed “Dave” on each side and dated “Aug. 22, 1857,” a day right in the middle of Dave’s peak production.

    Moreover, about 25 percent of Dave’s surviving pots are inscribed with verses-sometimes biblical, often humorous, ironic, or poignant-that reveal his keen intelligence and his facility with language. This capacious example bears the rhymed couplet: “I made this Jar for Cash- / though its called lucre trash.” Dave also added the initials “Lm” for his owner at the time, Lewis Miles, and other inscriptions.
    During his life, Dave was bought and sold several times. After emancipation, he adopted the surname of one of his early owners, Drake. Dave apparently passed away between 1870 and 1880, leaving behind an important legacy of vessels that are testimony to his skill and personality and to the ability of the human spirit to express itself even under the most difficult conditions.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    Signed "Lm Aug. 22, 1857 / Dave"; on other side: "I made this Jar for Cash- / though its called lucre trash / Dave" along with other identifying marks.

    Provenance

    Acquired by the collector Tony L. Shank, Marion, South Carolina, in 1991; purchased by MFA, 1997, from Tony L. Shank.

    Credit Line

    Harriet Otis Cruft Fund and Otis Norcross Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height: 48.3 cm (19 in.) Diam.: 45.1 cm (17 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1997.10

    Medium or Technique

    Stoneware with alkaline glaze

    On View

    Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery (Gallery 237)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Stoneware

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  • Peacock weather vane

    about 1860–75

    Description

    Perched delicately on a round ball, this striking peacock weather vane formed a strong sculptural silhouette against the sky. Its head, featuring a pierced eye and pointed beak, is topped by a stylized tripartite comb. The long curving neck descends gracefully to the body, where the thin legs and talons grasp the ball support. The flat, ribbed tail provides a wide expanse of metal that would effectively catch the wind, and the hollow body, made of molded copper sheets soldered together, is painted gold to protect the vane from the elements. Although such details would hardly have been visible from ground level, the artisan delicately applied paint to the body and the tail in imitation of feathers. The iron rod originally would have also supported iron letters indicating the cardinal points of north, south, east, and west.

    In a world in which changes in wind speed and direction were often the best indicators of a coming storm, weather vanes served a useful as well as ornamental purpose. They were a common sight in the early United States, mounted atop churches, civic buildings, and domestic residences. Although they could be fashioned in almost any form, many weather vanes depicted creatures of the natural world, including codfish, horses, goats, sheep, cows, and grasshoppers. The maker of this weather vane is not known, but the influential New York dealer of folk and modern art Edith Halpert found it and two related examples in Vermont sometime between 1929 and 1953.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html

    Provenance

    Found in the "vicinity of Vermont" by the New York folk art dealer Edith Halpert of The Downtown Gallery between 1929 and 1953; purchased and given to the Museum by Maxim Karolik in 1954.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Maxim Karolik

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 50.2 x 85.7 cm (19 3/4 x 33 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    54.1089

    Medium or Technique

    Copper; painted gold; iron rod

    On View

    Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery (Gallery 237)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Carousel figure of a greyhound

    about 1905–10
    Charles I. D. Looff (1852–1918)

    Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

    Description

    During the heyday of the carousel (or merry-go-round) as a popular form of American entertainment, from the 1890s into at least the 1920s, as many as three thousand carousels were installed at amusement parks across the country. Many of the finest carvers of carousel animals were German immigrants, including Charles Looff, whose name is stamped on the belly of this colorful, imposing greyhound.
    Looff was born in Schleswig-Holstein on the border between Denmark and Germany and moved to New York in 1870 as a young man of eighteen. He found employment first as a furniture carver, and, according to tradition, carved carousel figures in the evenings as a hobby. Within five years, he opened his first carousel at Coney Island, and in 1880 he established a carousel factory in Brooklyn. The plant remained in operation there until Looff shifted his headquarters to the Crescent Park Hippodrome in Riverside, Rhode Island, about 1904-5. This greyhound is marked “Riverside” and was thus made there between 1905 and 1910, when Looff moved his factory to California.

    Looff’s factories produced an extensive menagerie of animals, including a small number of greyhounds-perhaps only a dozen-all said to be modeled on a family pet. This example is a large “stander,” used on the outer ring of the carousel. Its “romance” side (the side exposed to the outside as the carousel rotates counterclockwise) is richly embellished with carved details, applied tassels, and cut-glass decoration. When acquired by the Museum, the greyhound was painted dark brown and covered with a thick layer of varnish. A painstaking process of conservation removed about fourteen layers of paint (carousel figures were exposed to the weather and thus repainted frequently), revealing the original polychrome painted surface and other details.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Dr Robert Ganz; Mr. Hallett Tobin, 1965; Thunderbird Amusements (Mr. Ricky), 1965; Pete Sutton, Great Sutton Shows

    Credit Line

    Gift of Claire M. and Robert N. Ganz

    Details

    Dimensions

    137.16 x 38.1 x 185.42 cm (54 x 15 x 73 in.)

    Accession Number

    1992.267

    Medium or Technique

    Painted wood; glass

    On View

    Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery (Gallery 237)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Wardrobe

    about 1870
    Heinrich Kuenemann II (1843–1914)

    Object Place: Fredericksburg, Texas

    Description

    By the 1840s, a wave of German immigration had spread to the Hill Country of Texas, virtually on the border of Comanche territory. The population of some towns, including Fredericksburg in Gillespie County, was about 85 percent German in the 1860s. Like English joiners in seventeenth-century New England, many Texas German woodworkers initially attempted to replicate the conditions of their mother country, producing furniture in the Biedermier style (popular in Germany and Austria, and to a lesser extent elsewhere, from the 1820s to the 1840s, featuring simple, clean lines, restrained ornament, and, often, light-colored woods such as maple). Soon, however, societal influences-among them migration and improved postal and communication systems-led to changes in the materials and design of their work.

    Heinrich Kuenemann, one of at least ten woodworkers in Fredericksburg, was born in Steterdorf, Hanover, Germany, and arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1845 as a two-year-old. He married Dorothea Elisabeth Tatsch on January 3, 1869, thus becoming the son-in-law of Johann Peter Tatsch, a well-known Prussian-born woodworker with whom Kuenemann may have served his apprenticeship. Tatsch gave the newlyweds a large wardrobe that surely inspired Kuenemann when he fashioned this example.

    Kuenemann’s imposing joined wardrobe, or Kleiderschrank, is an architectonic type of bedroom storage furniture favored by continental Europeans. Although the piece is Germanic in form, its mass-produced ornament, including the roundel in the cornice, the drawer pulls, and the applied rope-turned spindles at the sides, is evocative of the Renaissance and Elizabethan revival furniture made in Midwestern factories and imported into Texas at the time. Its creation from southern yellow pine, however, immediately identifies the wardrobe as a distinctly local product. The dramatic curly pine panels selected for the doors and drawer fronts present a dazzling optical effect, reminiscent of Baroque furniture made some two centuries earlier. This complex blend of attributes reflects, in three-dimensional form, the social and cultural factors that characterized life in the Hill Country in the 1870s.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Drawers and shelf supports numbered in graphite "No. 1" and "No. 2"

    Provenance

    Purchased from Robert Borchers, Fredericksburg, Texas, on April 8, 1990, by Mrs. Charles L. Bybee, Houston, Texas; 1990, gift of Mrs. Charles L. Bybee, Houston, Texas (Accession Date: September 18, 1990)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Bybee

    Details

    Dimensions

    221.61 x 143.51 x 59.69 cm (87 1/4 x 56 1/2 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1990.483

    Medium or Technique

    Southern yellow pine

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

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  • San Ysidro Labrador

    about 2000
    Raymond López (American, born in 1961)

    Object Place: Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Description

    Santos (devotional images of saints made for Catholic churches and homes) are one of the oldest living traditions in Hispanic American art. They have been fashioned in three principal forms: bultos (painted wood sculptures, as here), retablos (painted wood panels), and ex-votos (painted images on tin-plated sheets of iron). Examples were imported into New Mexico from Spain and Mexico before 1600, and by the eighteenth century bultos and retablos were also produced there by local santeros, who developed a distinctive New Mexican style. That tradition has been maintained into the twenty-first century by a vibrant community of New Mexico artists that continues to create not only colorful santos, but furniture, textiles, paintings, tinwork, straw appliqué, and other objects in the Spanish colonial mode as well.

    This image of the patron saint of farmers, San Ysidro Labradór (or Saint Isidore the Farmer, or the Laborer), was carved by furniture maker and santero Raymond López of Sante Fe. His work was first exhibited in 1993 at Spanish Market, a longstanding annual festival held in Sante Fe and sponsored by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. A number of stories and legends concern Ysidro, a Spanish farmer who died in 1130. In one, as depicted here, an angel is helping him with his plowing. In another story, he is said to have caused a fountain of fresh water to spring from the ground to assuage his master’s thirst. Such a miraculous talent made San Ysidro a particularly meaningful image to residents of perpetually arid New Mexico.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Credit Line

    Gift of James and Margie Krebs

    Copyright

    Copyrighted.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.2 x 29.2 x 57.2 cm (17 x 11 1/2 x 22 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    2006.1923

    Medium or Technique

    Painted and carved wood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Chalice and paten

    1855
    Cooper & Fisher (active 1854–1862), Francis W. Cooper (American, 1815–1898), Richard Fisher (American, active 1858–1862), Decorated by Henry P. Horlor (English, 1823–after 1881), Engraved by Segel (American, born in Germany)

    Object Place: New York, New York, United States

    Description

    The chalice stands on a splayed foot with applied
    twisted-chain edging and pierced quatrefoils on the applied vertical section of the foot. Lobed hexagonal sections rising from the foot contain three engraved panels with champlevé enamel in opaque blue, white, and translucent red that depict the Crucifixion, Pentecost, and Baptism of Christ. Interspersed within these are three panels engraved with the images of St. George slaying the dragon; St. John the Evangelist; and the martyrdom of a kneeling bearded man at the hands of a soldier. The figure may be St. Alban, Protomartyr of England.
    The openwork stem consists of six twisted wire columns around a central pierced shaft; central baluster is chased with a cluster of prunts in the form of arches and quatrefoils.
    The silver-gilt bowl (which has been regilded), with stylized floral engraving below the lip, is set in a silver calyx having egg-shaped reserves that reveal the bowl; the calyx framework is chased with the images of six angels whose outspread wings form spandrels between the reserves and below the gadrooned rim. Each angel displays an emblem of the Passion of Christ. Foliage is affixed between bowl and stem.

    The round shallow paten with worn gilding has a raised circular boss at center, on which has been applied a champlevé portrait bust of the Pantocrator, that of Christ wearing the royal crown and halo and holding the orb, with right hand raised, right forefinger extended. Surrounding the enamel is a simple engraved border leading to a broad rim ornamented with Gothic text against matte strapwork; a gadrooned edge surrounds the whole.


    This exceptional example of Gothic-revival communion silver represents some of the most ambitious work produced for the Episcopal church in the nineteenth century; it is also among the earliest enameled silver hollowware made in this country. Francis W. Cooper, the silversmith who fashioned the chalice and paten, is little known despite his fifty-year career in New York. Aside from church plate bearing his stamp, most of Cooper’s secular production was retailed by larger firms such as Tiffany & Co. without his own touchmark. Cooper was active in New York from 1842 until 1890, but his greatest activity probably occurred between 1854 and 1862, when jeweler Richard Fisher became his financial partner. During that time, Cooper & Fisher became the eighth-largest silver manufacturer in New York City.
    Cooper’s success, and that of the Cooper & Fisher partnership, rose along with reforming efforts within the American Episcopal church. Prompted in part by the secularization of industrial society, Anglicans and Episcopalians (their American counterparts) wished to revitalize their congregations by recapturing the innocence and spirituality of the early Christian church. The English Ecclesiological Society of London was prominent among the reformers. Their circle was composed of prominent High Church Anglicans who drew upon elements of historic church architecture and embellishments for a fresh interpretation. Its membership hoped to reestablish a medieval framework for worship through the careful selection of liturgical programs and close supervision of designers.
    Designs for communion plate received similar scrutiny. An 1843 article by English architect William Butterfield (1814 – 1900) titled “The Proper Shape of Chalices” appeared in the society’s publication, The Ecclesiologist. Butterfield invited the society to take a leadership role in establishing guidelines for the design and production of church plate. Within four years, Instrumenta Ecclesiastica was published under their guidance; it included 140 designs by Butterfield based upon medieval Gothic prototypes. The publication enabled the society to promote a sanctioned body of designs for churches wishing to order new communion silver. Church plate executed by London silversmith John James Keith (w. 1824 – 1870), under Butterfield’s supervision, received a medal at the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851.
    The New York Ecclesiological Society, formed in 1848, was the American counterpart to the English society. It appointed the Rev. John Henry Hopkins Jr. (1820 – 1891) to oversee the fabrication of silver using Butterfield’s designs. Acting on behalf of Episcopal churches wishing to purchase communion silver, Hopkins engaged Francis W. Cooper in 1851 as the New York society’s exclusive silversmith. Hopkins also made arrangements with Henry P. Horlor, an English enameler, who came with excellent credentials. Prior to his arrival in New York, Horlor had worked in London for the English Ecclesiastical Society, and the enamels he produced in New York are perhaps the first made for American hollowware. Engraving was performed by a craftsman named Segel, “an accomplished German artist in metal.” Chalices, patens, a footed paten, alms basins, and flagons were the chief forms of communion silver made under Hopkins’s direction.
    It is puzzling how Cooper achieved his exclusive distinction. His religious affiliation is unknown, and it is unclear whether he fashioned any domestic silver for society members. Certainly the choice was made by Hopkins, who exerted broad powers to select a craftsman for this purpose. The result was that Cooper became the only American metalsmith to fashion a quantity of silver hollowware in the Gothic mode. James Cox (w. 1831 – 33) and Zalmon Bostwick (w. 1846 – 1852) of New York were notable craftsmen working in this style, as was Roswell Gleason (1799 – 1887) of Dorchester, Massachusetts, but their production was modest by comparison.
    The chalice and paten originally formed part of a larger communion service that was made for Trinity Chapel in New York. As a satellite of Trinity Church, which today stands in Manhattan’s financial district, Trinity Chapel was established at West Twenty-fifth Street, near Broadway, and was intended to serve the church’s membership in what was then considered the town’s northern reaches. Designed by Richard Upjohn (1802 – 1878), the architect of Trinity Church, the chapel was dedicated in 1855. Upjohn’s High Church design was in harmony with Cooper’s paten, which displays broad Gothic lettering and a severe, frontal, Byzantine-style image of Christ. The pre-Reformation-style chalice resembles similar designs published by Augustus Welby North Pugin and updated by Butterfield.
    The New York Ecclesiological Society was dissolved in 1855, but American Episcopal churches continued to request silver that followed Butterfield’s designs. Francis W. Cooper filled these orders long after his association with Richard Fisher ended in 1862, fashioning variants of the same designs until about 1875. When the larger firms such as Tiffany & Co. and Gorham opened their own ecclesiastical departments in the late nineteenth century, they continued to draw upon Butterfield’s designs as wrought by Cooper.

    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

    Chalice: At scene of Baptism of Christ, on a ribbon above the figures in Gothic script: "This is my / beloved Son / in whom I am well pleased;" above the crucifixion [alpha] / [omega]; on the crucifix: "INRI." Underside of lobes marked with numbers intended to match with pierced quatrefoil edge. Numbering begins with 7, ending at 12, with other numbers, some of them duplicates, appearing as well. Paten: Engraved on the rim in Gothic script, with each word separated by a leaf, and set within a band of hatched background engraving: "holy * holy * holy * Lord * God * of hosts heaven and earth are full of thy glory."

    Markings

    "COOPER & FISHER / 131 AMITY ST NY" in roman letters on each; the chalice is missing a portion of the street name. The chalice is marked on applied foot rim; the paten is marked on back

    Provenance

    Originally made for Trinity Chapel, New York, about 1855. Subsequent history unknown until consigned by the Reverend Gregory T. Bittner to Sotheby's, New York, auction in 1996, where it was purchased by the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Gift of The Seminarians, Curator's Fund, and Ron Bourgeault

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    186, Falino and Ward

    Dimensions

    Overall (Chalice): 25.1 x 14 cm, 0.9 kg (9 7/8 x 5 1/2 in., 2 lb.) Overall (Paten): 1.3 x 24.1 cm, 0.5 kg (1/2 x 9 1/2 in., 1 lb.)

    Accession Number

    1996.27.1-2

    Medium or Technique

    Silver, silver-gilt, enamel

    On View

    Waleska Evans James Gallery (Gallery 236)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Cruet holder or "magic caster"

    1857–71
    Roswell Gleason and Sons (American, active 1851–1871), Roswell Gleason (American, 1799–1887)

    Object Place: Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Marked “PATENTED DEC. 1 1857” in arch at top. Doors revolve open with a twist of the knob, revealing glass cruet bottles in interior compartments.


    Table casters, as these sets were known in the mid-nineteenth century, comprised decorative stands holding cut-glass bottles containing condiments such as salt, pepper, sugar, oil, vinegar, and possibly mustard. Most silver-plate manufacturers produced casters, but the Magic Caster was an especially elaborate novelty product that Roswell Gleason and Sons patented in 1857. With a twist of a knob, its six revolving doors opened all at once to reveal six glass bottles inside. This clever device appealed to the love of new “mechanized” technologies and complicated dining accoutrements by upper- and middle-class consumers of the period. An English acquaintance of Gleason, upon showing a Magic Caster to his family, wrote in 1856 that “the Patent Castor in England would be a very saleable article; the extreme neatness and usefulness, combined with its novelty & elegance, would command much attention.” The caster’s decorative ornament included pointed arches in the Gothic Revival mode and such dining-related images as pendant swags of dead game animals and fish much like the carving on a contemporary sideboard by Ignatius Lutz.

    Born in rural Vermont, Roswell Gleason was a very successful self-made man. After moving to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in his youth, he became a tin worker in 1822 and a pewterer by 1830. He successfully grew his business, employing more than one hundred workers at a large factory and expanding to encompass britannia (tin alloy) wares. After 1850, when his sons joined the company, the firm produced mainly silver-plated goods. Their 1866 catalogue depicts more than sixty varieties of table casters in various sizes, including two versions of the Magic Caster on the first page, along with hundreds of other types of fancy tablewares.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Marked "PATENTED DEC. 1 1857" in arch at top. Incised "1620" and marked with Massachusetts State Seal (Gleason & Sons mark 1851-1871)

    Credit Line

    Marion E. Davis Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    55.88 x 22.22 x 22.22 cm (22 x 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.23

    Medium or Technique

    Silver plate, cut glass

    On View

    The Heide Family Galleries (Gallery 238A)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Table

    1850–57
    Alexander Roux (about 1813–1886)

    Object Place: New York, United States

    Description

    Alexander Roux was one of the elite New York cabinetmakers of French and German descent who supplied high-style furniture in the latest fashions to wealthy patrons in New York and beyond. Having emigrated from France in 1835, Roux quickly established his business, first as an upholsterer and then as a cabinetmaker, alongside other purveyors of luxury goods in the elegant Broadway shopping district. He made furniture in the French styles in vogue during the mid-nineteenth century, emphasizing his French training and ancestry in his advertising. Architect Andrew Jackson Downing singled out Roux’s work for praise in his landmark 1850 book The Architecture of Country Houses, writing: “At the warehouse of M. A. Roux, Broadway, may be found a large collection of furniture for the drawing-room, library, etc.-the most tasteful designs of Louis Quatorze, Renaissance, Gothic, etc., to be found in the country… .”

    This elegant table with exquisite carving in high relief displays Roux’s free handling of a variety of French styles drawn from Rococo Revival and Renaissance sources. It bears his stenciled label-“From / A. Roux / French / Cabinet Maker / Nos. 479 & 481 Broadway / New York”-advertising not only his business location but also his fashionably French origins.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Stencilled label on back: "From / A. Roux / French / Cabinet Maker / Nos. 479 & 481 Broadway / New York"

    Provenance

    According to the dealer, the table was part of the original furnishings in the home of Charles Eliot Tilton (1827-1901) in Tilton, N.H. Sold to the MFA by E. J. Canton, dealer in 19th century decorative arts (818 Morris Ave., Lutherville, MD) in 1983.

    Credit Line

    Frank B. Bemis Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 80 x 137.2 x 61.6 cm (31 1/2 x 54 x 24 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1983.325

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood, rosewood veneer

    On View

    Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Gallery (Gallery 235)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Tables, stands, screens

    More Info
  • Ewer

    about 1860
    Eoff and Shepard (American, 1852–1861), Edgar Mortimer Eoff (active about 1844–1861), George L. Shepard (active about 1852–1862), Retailed by Ball, Black & Co (American, 1852–1874)

    Object Place: New York, New York, United States

    Description

    The raised body of the pitcher is an inverted pear-shape with a long tapered neck and high drawn spout. There is a large cast double-curved handle and raised, splayed foot. Applied rope-like beading extends around the spout’s outer edge. A ringlet of “waves” at the top of the base cradles the body of the “vessel” as a ripple of frothy tide on the shoulder articulates the passage from body to neck. Applied 3-dimensional anchors ride at either side of the shoulder with their chain held up by a cast and applied female figure at the front. An engraved panel in front is surrounded by a repousséd and chased cartouche of watery scrolls couched in a patch of cattails. It is flanked by vignettes of sea nymphs and dolphins on the sides of the vessel with oak branches toward the back near the joining of the handle. The lower portion of the body and stem of the foot are ribbed in imitation of waves with alternating applied oval and leafy rosettes. The rim of the flared foot is alive with repousséd and chased aquatic and vegetal motifs and alternating cast and applied dolphin heads and seashells. The double C-scroll handle is joined to the body just under the lip with applied coral-like fronds. Its larger top section is simulates cresting waves and is surmounted by a cast and applied sailor figure. In the lower section, a small scroll terminates in a dolphin’s head attached to the body at the shoulder.


    Edgar Mortimer Eoff and George L. Shepard operated a modern steam-powered silverware manufactory that employed twenty-five workers. For nearly a decade, the firm supplied distinctive silverware to prestigious luxury-goods retailers such as Ball, Black & Co. According to its marks and inscriptions, this extraordinary ewer was exhibited by Ball, Black & Co. at New York’s 1864 Metropolitan Fair, where it was purchased by Bostonian John Williams Quincy. The fair was one of a series held in the northern states to benefit the U.S. Sanitary Commission and its efforts to support hospitals and medical relief during the Civil War. The ewer may have been exhibited at the “Museum of Arms and Trophies for Exhibition and Sale” held at the fair. The engravings were probably added by Quincy to honor the wishes of his late mother.
    Bedecked with sea nymphs, dolphins, conch shells, and swirling waves, this tall, classically shaped domestic vessel has been cast in the role of an ocean-going ship. On the prow, under Neptune’s vigilant eye, an angel figurehead thrusts forward above the breakwater. Three-dimensional anchors with draped chains complete the fantasy prow. Symbols of Christian faith, the angel and the anchors combine with nautical elements to create an impressive memorial to Captain Atkins.

    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 in script on the side of the neck "New York April 18th 1864 / Purchased by John W. Quincy at the great / Metropolitan Fair." Engraved on front "In Memorium. / This token of respect and affection to the memory of Captain Silas Atkins of Boston, Mass. / (Who died Dec. 7th. 1835. Aged 88 years) / is inscribed at the request of his daughter, / Abigail Atkins Quincy. / (Who died at Dorchester, Mass. Aug. 24th 1861. Aged 89 years. / to perpetuate his name and memory as a faithful husband, / and an affectionate father. / He pursued Navigation and Commerce, / and early retired to enjoy the reward / of his industry."

    Markings

    "E. & S" stamped in a rectangle, "BALL, BLACK & CO" in semi-circular band, "N. YORK" in rectangle, "162" and "950"

    Provenance

    To honor his mother’s request for a memorial to her father, Capt. Silas Atkins (1747 – 1835), the ewer was purchased by Bostonian John W. Quincy (1813 – 1883) at the 1864 Metropolitan Fair in New York City. Its subsequent history is unknown until purchased by the museum in 1977 from Thurston H. Smith Jr. of Locust Valley, New York.

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    49.5 x 24 x 19 cm (19 1/2 x 9 7/16 x 7 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1977.620

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Gallery (Gallery 235)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Sideboard

    1850–60
    Ignatius Lutz (American (born in France), 1817–1860)

    Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

    Description

    The lavish, naturalistic carving on this massive sideboard-including a stag’s head, dead game birds, bulging clusters of fruits, and grotesque animal faces-may be unsettling to viewers today. However, to affluent Americans of the 1850s and 1860s, this imposing object signified the owner’s wealth and power, and its emblems of hunt and harvest celebrated abundance and prosperity. The sideboard’s fine workmanship and large scale created a dramatic presence in the dining room, where it displayed costly silver objects and set the scene for elaborate dining rituals. In a metaphoric sense, as scholar Kenneth L. Ames has argued, sideboards like this one represented the transformation of hunting and eating into a refined and domesticated experience and thus symbolized for their owners the triumph of human civilization over the natural world.

    Sideboards trace their form, function, and iconography to noble homes in Europe, where such pieces had been in use since the fifteenth century. The seminal examples of nineteenth-century sideboards with dining-related carvings originated in France, as did many of the immigrant craftsmen who produced similar works in the United States. Ignatius Lutz was one of several French-trained cabinetmakers who dominated the high-end furniture trade in America, bringing European styles and craftsmanship to a wealthy and fashionable clientele. Lutz’s shop, employing thirty craftsmen, was among the largest in Philadelphia and relied upon handwork rather than power machinery to produce masterpieces such as this sideboard.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Stencilled on back: FROM I. LUTZ CABINET WAREHOUSE No. 121 S. 11th St. PHILA

    Provenance

    About 1970, purchased (possibly in Bucks County, Pennsylvania) by Mr. and Mrs. David Deitz, Trenton, New Jersey; June 18, 1980, sale 768, Victorian International IX, Sotheby's, New York, no. 669, to Peter Strickland, Philadelphia. By 1981, with Kurland Zabar, New York; 1990, sold by Kurland Zabor to the MFA. (Accession date: January 24, 1990)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by the Estate of Richard Bruce E. LaCont

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 238.8 x 188 x 63.5 cm (94 x 74 x 25 in.)

    Accession Number

    1990.1

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, yellow-poplar, marble

    On View

    Forkner and Gill Family Gallery (Gallery 238)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

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  • Painted bedstead with canopy

    about 1855
    Heywood Bro. & Company, Painted by Thomas Hill (1829–1908), Painted by Edward Hill (1843–1923)

    Object Place: Gardner, Massachusetts

    Description

    American painted furniture encompasses elegant, high-style objects such as the Thomas Seymour commode painted by John Ritto Penniman (23.19), vernacular furniture such as Pennsylvania German blanket chests, and a wide range of styles in between. This bedstead is a particularly grand example of the middle-class cottage furniture popularized in the 1850s by illustrations in the widely circulating magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. Architect and tastemaker Andrew Jackson Downing, in his seminal 1850 publication The Architecture of Country Houses, described cottage furniture as “remarkable for its combination of lightness and strength, and its essentially cottage-like character. It is very highly finished … Some of the better sets have groups of flowers or other designs painted upon them with artistic skill.”

    Heywood Brothers made this bedstead for Levi Heywood, the president of the company. It was crafted of inexpensive pine, like other cottage furniture, but its painted decoration-attributed (according to company tradition) to the English-born brothers Thomas and Edward Hill-is exceptionally rich and elaborate. The ebonized surface is ornamented with hand-painted fruit and floral still life arrangements surrounded by Rococo Revival gilt borders. The landscape paintings on the headboard are of particular interest, as the Hill brothers went on to become distinguished painters of the American West and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Owned originally by the president of the Heywood Company, Levi Heywood (1800-1892). by descent in the family to Helen R. Heywood (1837-1908) ; by descent to Levi H. Greenwood (1872-1930); by descent to Richard N. Greenwood (1899-1980); 1978, gift of Richard N. Greenwood, Plymouth, Mass. (Accession Date September 13, 1978)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Richard N. Greenwood

    Details

    Dimensions

    224.79 x 161.29 x 214.63 cm (88 1/2 x 63 1/2 x 84 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1978.305

    Medium or Technique

    Painted pine

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

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  • Sappho

    1863
    William Wetmore Story (American, 1819–1895)

    Object Place: Rome, Italy

    Description

    The subject of this sculpture, Sappho of Lesbos, the sixth-century-B.C. Greek poet, was a virtual Rohrschach test for nineteenth-century intellectuals, who often interpreted what little is actually known of her life and work to reflect their own predilections. For example, one journal stated in 1859 that Sappho was of “warm poetic temperament, of great lyric power, of voluptuous, passionate yearnings, and of many moral shortcomings.” William Wetmore Story saw her differently and chose to portray her in a calm, ideal pose. Seated in a klismos chair, she contemplates throwing herself off a cliff into the sea after her rejection by the Greek ferryman Phaon. A wilting rose, a symbol of failed love, droops across her unstrung lyre, contributing to the mood of listless reverie.

    Story was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and raised in Cambridge. He was the son of Joseph Story, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and law professor at Harvard University. Although he followed his father into the legal profession, earning a law degree in 1840, his real interests lay in art, music, and literature. After his father’s death in 1845, a committee of Cambridge citizens invited him to create a memorial to his father for Mount Auburn Cemetery. Having no experience in making monumental sculpture, Story moved with his family to Rome to study portrait memorials. The monument to his father was completed and accepted in 1853, and Story returned to his law practice in Boston in 1855. The next year, however, he permanently abandoned the legal profession and settled his family in Rome. He began producing idealized sculptures of literary and mythological subjects, but his work received little recognition until his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne used Story’s sculpture of Cleopatra as the subject of his novel The Marble Faun, published in 1860.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    William Stirling Crawford, Scotland; Castle Hill Antiques, Edinburgh, Scotland; Arnette Antique Galleries, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

    Credit Line

    Otis Norcross Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 137.5 x 85.1 x 84.1 cm, 952.55 kg (54 1/8 x 33 1/2 x 33 1/8 in., 2100 lb.) Block (White marble base (recessed into the wooden skirt)): 7.3 x 86 x 85.1 cm (2 7/8 x 33 7/8 x 33 1/2 in.) Overall: 94 cm (37 in.) Mount (Rolling steel base - 3/4" thick painted wooden skirts): 39.7 x 116.2 x 117.2 cm (15 5/8 x 45 3/4 x 46 1/8 in.) Other (Four steel Rollers rear locking single wheels): 14 cm (5 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1977.772

    Medium or Technique

    Marble

    On View

    Penny and Jeff Vinik Gallery (Gallery 233)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Sleeping Faun

    after 1865
    Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (American, 1830–1908)

    Object Place: Rome, Italy

    Description

    Exhibited before millions of visitors at international exhibitions, Harriet Hosmer’s depiction of an inebriated faun sprawled against a tree stump was one of her most highly acclaimed works. Contemporary critics agreed that Hosmer had captured the graceful curves and sensual finishes of Greek Hellenistic sculpture in the adolescent faun’s perfect proportions, smooth skin, and languorous pose, while at the same time evoking a mood of playfulness and whimsy. The bunch of grapes and the panpipe littered on the ground refer to the faun’s merry carousing, and his pointed ears and tiger-skin drapery indicate his animalistic nature. In counterpoint to his peaceful sleep, a mischievous satyr ties the faun to the tree stump with the ends of the tiger skin. Hosmer employed tremendous carving skill to create the varied textures of the faun’s sensual body, the rough tiger skin, the mossy forest floor, the firm grapes, and the satyr’s thick, curly hair.

    One of the nineteenth century’s most accomplished female artists, Hosmer received a progressive education at a boarding school in Lenox, Massachusetts, where her mentors encouraged her to seek a way of life not bound by then current conventions of womanhood. She began studying sculpture in the United States but moved to Rome in 1852 to advance her education, becoming the first American woman sculptor to do so. There, she studied with England’s leading Neoclassical sculptor, John Gibson. By the mid-1850s Hosmer’s work was received warmly by critics, and she became a colorful figure in American and European artistic circles, known for her unorthodox lifestyle. In a testimonial to her own independence, Hosmer remarked in 1868, “I honor every woman who has strength enough to step outside the beaten path when she feels that her walk lies in another; strength enough to stand up and be laughed at, if necessary.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Mrs. Lucien (Cornelia Crow) Carr, Cambridge, Massachusetts; 1912, gift of Mrs. Lucien Carr (accession date July 18, 1912).

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Lucien Carr

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 87.6 x 104.1 x 41.9 cm, 589.7 kg (34 1/2 x 41 x 16 1/2 in., 1300 lb.)

    Accession Number

    12.709

    Medium or Technique

    Marble

    On View

    Penny and Jeff Vinik Gallery (Gallery 233)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Goblet

    about 1860–75
    Louis F. Vaupel (American (born in Germany), 1824–1903), New England Glass Co., East Cambridge, Massachusetts (1818–1888)

    Object Place: East Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Cobalt-blue cased glass bowl on baluster stem and circular foot. Panels of horse and wolves, lions attacking buffalo are on bowl.


    Louis Vaupel’s work at the New England Glass Company represents the pinnacle of mid-nineteenth-century glass engraving. He came to the company in 1850 from Germany, where he had learned his craft from his father and had already attained the rank of an expert glass engraver. Vaupel specialized in cased (or overlay) glass, made of fused layers of colored and clear glass into which decoration was cut with a grinding wheel. Artisans had produced glass of this type in Europe, particularly in Bohemia, since the eighteenth century, and displays of glass from France and Austria at New York’s Crystal Palace exhibition in 1853 helped popularize the style in America.

    Engraving cased glass required great skill and speed. The craftsman would begin by either lightly drawing the design on the surface of the glass or placing a piece of paper showing the design inside the vessel. He then used varying sizes of copper grinding wheels, which were coated with an abrasive agent such as emery or pumice mixed with oil, to engrave the design. As the grinding wheel turned on a lathe, the craftsman delicately pressed the layered glass against the spinning blade, which removed areas of colored glass to reveal the clear glass beneath. Because the abrasive material and glass dust partially obscured the glass, the engraver relied on a sense of touch to judge the amount of pressure needed to create the design. In the complex hunting scenes on this remarkable goblet, Vaupel skillfully created precise renderings of the animals’ musculature and a lively sense of movement and depth.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Dr. Minette D. Newman

    Details

    Dimensions

    15.87 x 7.62 x 7.62 cm (6 1/4 x 3 x 3 in.)

    Accession Number

    61.1219

    Medium or Technique

    Blown, cobalt-blue cased glass, cut and engraved

    On View

    David and Stacey Goel Gallery (Gallery 239)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Glass

    More Info
  • Cabinet

    about 1873–75
    Nelson Gustafson (active 1873–1875), Mounts marked by P. E. Guerin (founded in 1857)

    Object Place: New York, New York

    Description

    This piece embodies the idea that “more is more.” Designed to convey their owners’ wealth and taste, such cabinets were used to display equally sumptuous works of art, such as elaborate clocks or vases. All of New York’s leading cabinetmakers made similar pieces, which were called “French cabinets,” as they were based (loosely) on French courtly styles of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. This cabinet integrates–among other elements–classically inspired columns, Italian Renaissance-style marquetry panels and console brackets, and a French porcelain plaque with a French-inspired metal surround.

    Signed

    "Aylward" signed in pencil on ormolu around door plaque.

    Markings

    1. Stamped "N. GUSTAFSSON" on top of ebonized pilasters, bottom rail of central door, bottom rail of left and right front panels, back of stretcher of base, back board. 2. Stamped "P.E.G." on ormolu around the bronze relief plaque in upper section and on ormolu around the ceramic plaque on the door.

    Provenance

    Museum purchase from Carl L. Crossman (Danvers, Mass.), 1981 (Accession Date: November 18, 1981)

    Credit Line

    Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 143.5 x 179.1 x 41.9 cm (56 1/2 x 70 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1981.400

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, rosewood, exotic woods, porcelain and bronze plaques

    On View

    Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Mildred Howells

    1898
    Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American (born in Ireland), 1848–1907), Frame attributed to Stanford White (American, 1853–1906)

    Object Place: New York, New York

    Description

    Bronze relief portrait profile. Has original frame.


    Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the leading sculptor of the American Renaissance. Apprenticed to a New York cameo cutter, Saint-Gaudens later studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He collaborated on important commissions with the famed architects Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, and Stanford White and is perhaps best known for his pathbreaking work in bronze.

    In his bronze reliefs, which reflect his admiration for the fine reliefs by Italian Renaissance masters Pisanello and Donatello, Saint-Gaudens employed subtle textures and a multitude of painterly effects that create depth and liveliness of surface. He excerpted the portrait of Mildred Howells, a celebrated poet and watercolorist, from a double portrait relief (now lost) of Mildred and her father, the writer and editor William Dean Howells. Saint-Gaudens, who admired both father and daughter, proposed the project himself. Mildred’s forthright gaze, elegant profile, and jaunty pose with her hand on her hip reveal a stylish and confident young woman. The relief is set in its original frame, believed to have been designed by Saint-Gaudens’s friend Stanford White.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    "MILDRED . HOWELLS . / NEW-YORK . M . DC. C. C. / . XCVIII. / . FROM . AVGVSTVS . SAINT-GAVDENS "

    Provenance

    William Dean Howells, New York; Mildred Howells, Boston.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Miss Mildred Howells

    Details

    Catalogue Raisonné

    72

    Dimensions

    Overall (frame): 78.7 x 73.7 cm (31 x 29 in.) Other (diameter of bronze): 53.3 cm (21 in.)

    Accession Number

    57.558

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze, brown patina, lost-wax cast

    On View

    Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Head of Victory

    after 1907
    Artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American (born in Ireland), 1848–1907), Cast by Gorham Manufacturing Company (active 1865–1961)

    Object Place: Cornish, New Hampshire; Place of Manufacture: Providence, Rhode Island

    Description

    Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the leading sculptor of the American Renaissance. Apprenticed to a New York cameo cutter, Saint-Gaudens later studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He collaborated on important commissions with the famed architects Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, and Stanford White and is perhaps best known for his pathbreaking work in bronze.

    The Head of Victory is one of several studies for Saint-Gaudens’s last great public sculpture, the Sherman Monument, commissioned by the State of New York for the Grand Army Plaza in New York City and completed in 1903. A much-praised equestrian sculpture, the monument depicts General Tecumseh Sherman led by a winged figure of Victory. At his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire, Saint-Gaudens revised the head of Victory several times, even while the monument was being cast. He later produced bronze casts, including this one, of the head’s second version. Noted American artist Kenyon Cox wrote of the Victory figure on the Sherman Monument: “She has a certain fierce wildness of aspect, but her rapt gaze and half-open mouth indicate the seer of visions[:] peace is ahead and an end of war.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Richard A. Bourne Co., Hyannis, Mass.; Aug. 6, 1977.

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (includes marble base): 31.8 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm (12 1/2 x 7 x 6 1/2 in.) Overall (bronze figure only): 20.3 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm (8 x 7 x 6 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1977.600

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze, green-brown patina, lost-wax cast; marble base

    On View

    Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Dying Centaur

    1869
    William Rimmer (American (born in England), 1816–1879)

    Description

    The powerful musculature and complex pose of the Dying Centaur reveal William Rimmer’s unusual background as a physician and self-taught artist. The son of a cobbler who believed he was a lost descendant of French royalty, Rimmer grew up in Boston, where he displayed an early aptitude for art and dabbled in a variety of trades. While pursuing a painting career as a young man, he studied anatomy and soon began his own practice as a self-taught physician in Brockton and later in Milton, Massachusetts. His early and untutored experiments in sculpture caught the attention of Stephen H. Perkins, a wealthy Boston patron who came to champion Rimmer’s career. Rimmer soon gained a measure of fame as a sculptor and art teacher noted for his understanding of human anatomy.

    Dying Centaur depicts a familiar mythological subject without the classical restraint and calm of contemporary Neoclassical sculpture. Rimmer portrayed the sprawling figure in a moment of physical and spiritual anguish, one truncated arm extended heavenward as if imploring aid from the gods. The figure’s raw emotion may reflect the influence of French artist Antoine-Louis Barye’s romantic and violent animal sculptures, popular at this time. The work may also be an autobiographical statement about Rimmer’s own melancholy, expressing his feelings of isolation and disappointment at the lack of adequate recognition during his lifetime. Immediately after his death, the Rimmer Memorial Committee selected Dying Centaur as the first of his compositions to be cast in bronze, and in 1880 the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, held an important memorial exhibition of the artist’s work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Caroline Hunt Rimmer, Belmont, Massachusetts; lent to Museum in 1883; removed and returned to Museum in 1905; received as a bequest in 1919.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Miss Caroline Hunt Rimmer

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 53.3 x 61cm (21 x 24in.) Other (Overall): 68.6cm (27in.)

    Accession Number

    RES.19.127

    Medium or Technique

    Plaster

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

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  • Punch bowl (set with ladle)

    1885
    Gorham Manufacturing Company (active 1865–1961)

    Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

    Description

    This raised bowl exhibits a chased swirling image of sea life, with waves, fish, seaweed, and other aquatic elements. The rim is encircled with a cast silver border imitating coral and applied shells, crabs, and seaweed. Similar ornamentation appears on the raised and soldered foot. Two large cast scallop shells, encrusted with cast seaweed, serve as handles. Traces of gilt can be found throughout the bowl’s surface. The ladle has gilt accents and is made up of cast elements: a scallop shell bowl, oyster shell terminus, and applied sea-life ornamentation on the handle.


    This monumental punch bowl, with matching ladle, is a testament to the extraordinary technical and artistic prowess of Gorham’s craftsmen in the late nineteenth century, an era otherwise noted for significant advances in machine production. Reflecting an interest in Japanese art and culture that predominated in the 1880s, this magnificent set demonstrates not only the influence of British reform, or craftsman, movement at century’s end but also America’s engagement with the Aesthetic style.
    This raised bowl represents a tremendous technical achievement, evidenced by its broadly repousséd ornament of swirling waves, flying fish, and fantastic sea serpent.1 Surviving company records reveal that the retail cost was about $840, a considerable sum in 1885, and that the value of the gold on the piece far exceeded that used on other punch bowls created at the same time. The interior, as well as the serpent’s tongue and eyes and other details, were originally gilded.

    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.

    Markings

    Marked on base with a stamped lion passant, anchor, and gothic "G" letter, each within a shaped cartouche; 1980 stamped incuse; below which is a scratched [box form] X E; STERLING / and the incuse stamped head of a wolf.

    Provenance

    By 1980, with Firestone and Parsons, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts; 1980, purchased from Firestone and Parsons by the MFA

    Credit Line

    Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 25.7 x 38.7 x 17.8 x 23.5 cm (10 1/8 x 15 1/4 x 7 x 9 1/4 in.) Other: 3500 gm

    Accession Number

    1980.383

    Medium or Technique

    Silver, gilding

    On View

    Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • "Peonies Blown in the Wind" window

    1886
    John La Farge (American, 1835–1910)

    Description

    The mid-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, which sparked an interest in medieval arts, and the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which emphasized artistic unity in interior decoration, both popularized and secularized stained glass and elevated its importance as an art form. Although the majority of stained glass used in the United States was imported from England and made in a traditional manner, American artists John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany separately, yet simultaneously, experimented with new techniques and designs that offered remarkable, unconventional qualities of texture and color.

    La Farge’s most important contribution to the art of stained glass was his use of opalescent glass (which he claimed to have invented) in multiple layers to create variegated hues and dramatic effects of depth. Unlike traditional stained glass, in which the artist painted the flat surface to render details and shading, La Farge’s windows achieve the effects of shading and three-dimensionality through the layering and shaping of the glass itself. For greater textural effect, he often used an outer layer that had a corrugated appearance produced by compressing or stamping sheets of hot glass. Many of his works incorporated chunks or pebbles of glass-or even cut, faceted glass nuggets-to refract light, as seen in the jewel-like border of this example.

    This extraordinary window, one of five incorporating the Japanese-inspired peony design, was made for the studio of British painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Jean Guiffrey, a former curator at the Louvre who helped the MFA acquire the window in 1913, wrote that “La Farge has worked out the shape and shading of every one of the flowers’ delicate petals solely by this process of varying the thickness of the glass. Before this could be done, he had first to sculpture the flowers and then make his final design in glass from the original carved model. It was work requiring the rarest technique and skill.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    "John La Farge's Glass / New York . US"

    Provenance

    1886, created for the London studio of the painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema; 1913, purchased by the MFA (October 1913) from Alma-Tandema studio sale via Jean Guiffrey working as agent for the MFA, for $1200.

    Credit Line

    General Funds

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other (no frame/glass only): (59 3/16 x 40 3/8 in.) Overall (w/original wood frame): (64 3/4 x 45 13/16 x 1 5/16 in.) Flat molding of frame from outer edge up to inside round molding = 2 3/4 in wide all sides

    Accession Number

    13.2802

    Medium or Technique

    Leaded stained and opalescent glass

    On View

    Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Glass

    More Info
  • Cabinet

    about 1880
    Herter Brothers (American, 1865–1905)

    Object Place: New York City, New York

    Description

    Large rectangular cabinet supported on four short front legs terminating in animal-paw feet and four straight rear legs; main body of cabinet contains an arched niche at each side, with a small drawer above and below, flanking a central door with inlaid Asian motifs, including irises, flowers, reeds, dragonflies, and a painted butterfly, and with a bird’s-eye maple panel at top; carved and pierced panel below cupboard; lower section with a flat, slightly projecting top with molded edge; upper section includes a large box at center decorated at front with carved and gilt columns; splash board has rounded ends and, along with the entire back, is covered with stamped gilt paper with painted/stenciled rosettes; brass mounts, pulls, and key.


    Representing the highest level of art furniture, this elegant cabinet expresses the vocabulary of the Japonesque taste in a rich variety of materials. Its spare and linear form is Neoclassical in character, but its rectilinear design is enlivened by asymmetrical ornament derived from such sources as Japanese screens and woodblock prints. As on the Gorham punch bowl (p. x-ref.), the marquetry decoration of the cabinet celebrates Japanese naturalistic ornament. The panels depict extraordinarily detailed insect and plant life, including tiny beetles munching holes in the leaves on the top panel. Another striking feature is the stamped and stenciled gilt paper that lines the niches and splashboard. Several furniture makers, including Herter Brothers, used textiles to line shelves and niches on furniture in this period, but elaborate paper used in this manner rarely survived. The gold paper, embossed with an intricate pattern, was stenciled with reddish-brown flowers scattered irregularly across the surface. The flowers vary in size and shape, rhythmically echoing the floral motifs of the carved and inlaid panels.

    Herter Brothers, headed by Gustav Herter and his half brother Christian, produced some of New York’s finest furniture in a rich and eclectic array of styles in the post-Civil War period. A pencil inscription on the back of this cabinet reads “N. 908 Harriman Esq.,” suggesting that it may have been made for financier Edward Henry Harriman. Harriman made his money at a young age on Wall Street and in railroads, and was described by contemporaries as both “dashing” and “cold and ruthless.” Although his ownership of the cabinet is not certain, the piece represents the costly, sometimes one-of-a-kind designs that Herter Brothers produced for Harriman’s peers, the robber-baron elite.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Signed in pencil on back "N. 908, Harriman Esq. "

    Markings

    Stamped "HERTER BROS" twice on back.

    Provenance

    Probably owned originally by Harriman family, possibly Edward Henry Harriman (1848-1909) of the railroad industry; purchased from Margot Johnson, Inc., a New York City dealer, by the Museum in 2000 (Accession Date: January 26, 2000)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously and the Frank B. Bemis Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    133.35 x 184.78 x 38.42 cm (52 1/2 x 72 3/4 x 15 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2000.3

    Medium or Technique

    Maple, bird's-eye maple, oak or chestnut, stamped and gilt paper, with gilding, inlay, and carved decoration; original brass pulls and key

    On View

    Robert P. and Carol T. Henderson Gallery (Gallery 228)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Armchair for the Woburn Public Library

    about 1878
    Probably designed by Henry Hobson Richardson (American, 1838–1886)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    One of America’s most influential architects of the nineteenth century, Henry Hobson Richardson is best known for his original interpretation of early medieval building styles in modern architecture; he himself described the style as “a free rendering of the French Romanesque.” As an important figure in the design-reform movement of the period, he designed furnishings and interiors integrated with the overall architectural scheme of his libraries, churches, and other public buildings. For the Woburn Public Library (sometimes called Winn Memorial Library) in Woburn, Massachusetts-the first of several public library commissions, constructed from 1876 to 1879-Richardson designed this chair to harmonize with the curved lines of the wooden barrel-vaulted ceiling in the book room and the picturesque, neo-medieval style of the building.

    The chair reveals the influence of British architects and design reformers, including Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Bruce Talbert, William Morris, and others who advocated a return to the “honest” design principles of medieval furniture. Richardson intended its solid oak frame with chamfered, or angled, edges and deliberately exposed joinery to suggest the sturdy character of medieval furniture so admired by the English reformers. The chair’s curving, crossed members and pared-down structure may be indebted to Gothic-inspired designs by Pugin and Talbert, including X-frame chairs and tables. Nevertheless, Richardson’s chair was an original form, which despite its massive scale is visually lightened by its spare carved ornament and its unusual cantilevered arms.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Designed for the board room of the Woburn (Mass.) Public Library; 1961, Gift of Woburn Public Library (Accession Date April 12, 1961);

    Credit Line

    Gift of Woburn Public Library

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 85.4 x 74.9 x 71.1 cm (33 5/8 x 29 1/2 x 28 in.)

    Accession Number

    61.236

    Medium or Technique

    White oak, leather

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Pitcher

    American
    1893
    Rookwood Pottery Company (active 1880–1967), Gorham Manufacturing Company (active 1865–1961), Decorated by Constance Amelia Baker (active 1892–1904)

    Object Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

    Description

    The Rookwood Pottery was one of the earliest and most successful art potteries in the United States. Amateur artist and heiress Maria Longworth Nichols established Rookwood in 1880 after admiring the high quality of Japanese and Chinese ceramics at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. She wanted to create an “art industry” to encourage creativity, experimentation, and beauty in American manufacturing. From its beginnings as a small workshop where wealthy women and other amateurs painted simple shapes, the pottery evolved into a large-scale producer of many different styles and patterns.

    By 1883, Nichols hired William Watts Taylor to manage Rookwood. Within several years Taylor had transformed the operation into a profit-making commercial venture. He developed a standard glaze of earth tones and marketed the pottery as fine art, emphasized by artist signatures on each piece. This pitcher, painted with a blend of warm brown, yellow, red, and green and signed “CAB” by decorator Constance Amelia Baker, is an excellent example of “Standard Rookwood.” In addition, this piece is embellished with swirling silver overlay by the Gorham Manufacturing Company. Rookwood forged a relationship with Gorham in an attempt to enliven its wares for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The collaboration was short-lived, perhaps because the painted designs and the silver ornament rarely complemented one another, as illustrated by the competing floral and vegetal motifs on this pitcher.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    "(seven flames) / R (reversed)P / 52 / D / W." Signed on bottom, right: "CAB" Marked on silver: "RI056 GORHAM MFG CO."

    Provenance

    Purchased in 1989 from Firestone & Parson, Inc., Boston, Mass.

    Credit Line

    Edwin E. Jack Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    16.8 x 21 x 15.2 cm (6 5/8 x 8 1/4 x 6 in.)

    Accession Number

    1989.200

    Medium or Technique

    White earthenware, decorated with brown, yellow, green, and blue slip and covered with transparent glossy glaze; silver deposit decoration

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware

    More Info
  • Cabinet

    1902–05
    Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony (active 1902–1905), Designed by Edna Walker (American, born in 1880)

    Object Place: near Woodstock, New York

    Description

    The large cabinet (or linen press) has a slightly projecting top above a cove molding. The upper section contains a wide horizontal cupboard door, hinged at the proper right and with a keyhole escutcheon at proper left, and with a central panel carved with tulip-poplar leaves and flowers, stained in various shades of brown and yellow. The lower section contains a pair of vertical cupboard doors, again hinged at the outside and each with a keyhole escutcheon at center, and each with a central vertical panel outlined with carved and stained ornament related to the door above. The lowest tier contains a wide drawer with a keyhole escutcheon at center and a pair of applied metal pulls. The cabinet is of framed construction, and the legs are formed by slightly flaring extensions of the stiles. The frame is covered wth a dark greenish-black stain.


    In founding the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony in 1902, Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead sought to foster creative artistic collaboration and experimentation in an idyllic setting. They built rustic cabins in the Catskill Mountains of Woodstock, New York, and invited writers, painters, photographers, and craftspeople to use them as workshops and studios. The Whiteheads financed the start of the colony, hoping that craft sales would ultimately support the community.

    Although some of the workshops profited, the furniture enterprise failed, closing in 1905. Fewer than fifty pieces were produced, including this massive dark-stained cabinet. The piece’s simple, rectilinear form and solid construction adhere to the Arts and Crafts principles promoted by the Whiteheads, and the naturalistic carved decoration on the doors lightens its visual weight. The flowering tulip poplar motif is accented with transparent stains that allow the grain of the wood to show through, adding organic rhythm and movement to the design. Two related drawings survive (also in the MFA): one illustrating the cabinet’s form and one outlining the tulip poplar panel design. Both are signed by Edna Walker, a trained artist who joined the Byrdcliffe community in the summer of 1903.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Maker's mark branded inside cupboard door: "BYRDCLIFFE 1904" in an octagon

    Provenance

    Mr. and Mrs. Mark Willcox; ca. 1976, Robert Edwards; consigned to "Important 20th Century Decorative Arts," Christie's, New York, sale 1162, Christie's, December 10, 2002, lot 16 (Accession Date: February 26, 2003).

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously and Frank B. Bemis Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 184.8 x 138.7 x 63.2 cm (72 3/4 x 54 5/8 x 24 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.61

    Medium or Technique

    Oak with polychrome stained and carved panels, yellow poplar, original brass hardware

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Hanging lantern (one of a pair)

    about 1903–08
    Designed by Dard Hunter (American, 1883–1966), Made by Karl Kipp (American, 1882–1954), Roycroft (active 1895–1938)

    Description

    Unfulfilled by running a soap company in Buffalo, New York, Elbert Hubbard quit his job and searched for inspiration, first at Harvard, then on a walking tour of England. Hubbard found his muse when he visited Williams Morris’s Kelmscott Press, which produced beautiful, artful editions of Morris’s own writings, and works by the leading authors of the period. Stimulated by Morris’s ideas, Hubbard returned to the United States, founded a printing press to publish his own writings and established Roycroft, a utopian artist community in East Aurora, New York. Hubbard’s charismatic personality attracted talented artisans to his workshops, while his business acumen promoted their wares using mass-marketing methods.

    This three-light lantern is one of twelve that hung in the dining hall of the Roycroft Inn, built in 1903 for visitors who came to observe and purchase goods from the community. Designed by Dard Hunter and made by Karl Kipp, head of the Roycroft Copper Shop, the lantern illustrates the strong Viennese influence on many of Roycroft’s products. Hunter, a young and talented designer, eagerly studied English and German publications, which included the work of the budding Vienna Secession. This exposure is evident in the geometric design of the lantern, accented by glass squares of varying colors.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Probably of a set of lanterns made by Hunter for the main dining room at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, New York; purchased from Robert Edwards, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, in 1980.

    Credit Line

    Harriet Otis Cruft Fund

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 76.2 x 40.6 x 15.2 cm (30 x 16 x 6 in.)

    Accession Number

    1980.279

    Medium or Technique

    Copper, nickel silver, stained glass, leather

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Lighting devices

    More Info
  • Tile

    designed about 1906, made about 1906-20
    Designed by Addison B. LeBoutillier (Born in France, 1872–1951), Manufactured by Grueby Faience Company (active 1894–1909), Or Grueby Faience and Tile Company (active 1909–1919)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    Ceramics innovator William H. Grueby’s style of “organic naturalism” transformed the direction of art pottery in the United States and abroad. His vegetal forms are articulated by subtle tooling and finished with opaque, dripping glazes that blurred the line between form and surface decoration. Although best known today for three-dimensional forms, Grueby began his career making architectural tiles. Tiles remained the foundation of his company’s production, and a new line of interior Arts and Crafts-inspired decorative tiles introduced about 1902 reinvigorated the company’s flagging sales. Grueby’s new designer, illustrator Addison B. LeBoutillier, created the line using flat, stylized designs of flowers, trees, animals, and ships that reduced the image to abstract pattern.

    This large tile is adapted from an eight-tile frieze LeBoutillier designed in 1906 called “The Pines.” Using an ancient Moorish process, the clay was impressed with the design, forming channels with low walls that kept Grueby’s characteristic thick glazes separate. The tile combines LeBoutillier’s drafting skills with Grueby’s variety of color tone and texture, resulting in a stylized scene with a soft surface that typifies the best works of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    No marks.

    Provenance

    Anonymous gift in memory of John G. Pierce, 1965.

    Credit Line

    Anonymous gift in memory of John G. Pierce

    Details

    Dimensions

    2.54 x 31.11 x 31.11 cm (1 x 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    65.215

    Medium or Technique

    Pressed and glazed earthenware

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Earthenware

    More Info
  • Bowl

    "Stalking Panther" bowl

    1910–15
    Marblehead Pottery (active 1904–1936)

    Object Place: Marblehead, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Wheel-thrown earthenware with incised and matte glaze decoration


    In 1904, Dr. Herbert J. Hall established the Marblehead Pottery to provide occupational therapy to patients suffering from nervous exhaustion and depression. The therapeutic mission soon gave way to commercial pressures, as the small pottery sought to enforce quality control. In 1905, Hall hired Arthur E. Baggs, a formally trained potter and glaze chemist who would take over as director in 1908. Baggs developed Marblehead’s signature style of simple hand-thrown shapes, matte glazes with pebbled grounds, and conventionalized decoration. The vast majority of the pottery’s production was basic commercial wares that fulfilled Baggs’s standards of quality but had no additional adornment. Today, the rarer ornamented pots are renowned for their restrained decoration in the Arts and Crafts manner.

    The “Stalking Panther” bowl, with its complex design, rich tones, and exotic panther motif, is an exceptional example of the pottery’s elite production. Most works combined subtle, cool colors and austere, highly regimented, or geometric patterns. On this piece, the strong horizontal band of the design is regularly punctuated by vertical bars around which slink the shadowy figures. The flat, graphic design is further enlivened by the pulsing yellow background. Although it is unclear whether Baggs himself made this unusual piece, the bowl descended in his family with the story that the potter gave it to his wife as a present.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    To MFA, 1990, gift of John Axelrod.

    Credit Line

    The John Axelrod Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    9.84 x 27.3 x 27.3 cm (3 7/8 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1990.508

    Medium or Technique

    Wheel-thrown earthenware with incised and glazed decoration

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware

    More Info
  • Vase

    1914
    Designed by Arthur Stone (American, born in England, 1847–1938), Made by Herbert A. Taylor (active 1908–1937)

    Object Place: Gardner, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    The raised vase tapers gently outward and then quickly inward at the rim. An ornamental band of latticework is punctuated with floral cartouches alternating with single rose stems that extend above and below the band. A scalloped line creates the divisions for the flat fluting, which is terminated by two sets of scored lines above the splayed foot.


    This vase demonstrates Stone’s consummate ability to combine elements associated with different historical periods, resulting in a beautifully unified modern expression. The overall design and delicacy of the piece recalls the Art Nouveau style, whereas the flat fluting was a common feature on Baroque art.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    Marked on base/ under base molding/ to left of handle "Reynolds" in a heart above center point.

    Provenance

    Arthur and Elizabeth Bent Stone estate to their companion Annie E. Priest; by descent to Alma Bent, Stone’s cousin, from whom the Museum purchased the piece.

    Credit Line

    Seth K. Sweetser Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 19.7 x 11.3 cm (7 3/4 x 4 7/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1978.234

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Tea caddy

    April 1914
    Paul Revere Pottery of the Saturday Evening Girls club (active 1908–1942), Decorated by Sara Galner (American, born Austria–Hungary, 1894–1982)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston’s North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood’s branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls “off the streets” and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery’s mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment.

    Sara Galner, a Jeweish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the SEG library club in her early teens, hiding her books from her disapproving parents. Galner joined the pottery in its nascent years and continued to work there until her marriage in 1921, occasionally running the pottery’s retail stores in downtown Boston and Washington, D.C. Her painted designs reveal the pottery’s shift in glazes, color palettes, and patterns, and her own maturation as a decorator. Identified by her initials on the base, the large bowl featuring animated geese (2007.366), and this detailed tea caddy, which seems to tell a story about the rural cottage surrounded by trees, are among the finest examples of both Galner’s and the pottery’s work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    (painted on base): "S.E.G. / 11-14/S./G."

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; 2004–2005, acquired by Dr. David L. Bloom on eBay; given Dr. David L. Bloom to the MFA (Accession date: XXXX)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Dr. David L. Bloom and family in honor of his mother, Sara Galner Bloom

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 11.1 x 7.6 x 7.6 cm (4 3/8 x 3 x 3 in.)

    Accession Number

    2007.365

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware with glaze

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Earthenware

    More Info
  • Goose bowl

    November 1914
    Paul Revere Pottery of the Saturday Evening Girls club (active 1908–1942), Decorated by Sara Galner (American, born Austria–Hungary, 1894–1982)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston’s North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood’s branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls “off the streets” and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery’s mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment.

    Sara Galner, a Jeweish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the SEG library club in her early teens, hiding her books from her disapproving parents. Galner joined the pottery in its nascent years and continued to work there until her marriage in 1921, occasionally running the pottery’s retail stores in downtown Boston and Washington, D.C. Her painted designs reveal the pottery’s shift in glazes, color palettes, and patterns, and her own maturation as a decorator. Identified by her initials on the base, this large bowl featuring animated geese, and the detailed tea caddy (2007.365), which seems to tell a story about the rural cottage surrounded by trees, are among the finest examples of both Galner’s and the pottery’s work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    (painted on base): "S.E.G. / 11-14 / S.G."

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; date TBD, acquired by Dr. David L. Bloom, Morristown, NJ, then Boston, MA at Skinner's auction house; given Dr. David L. Bloom to the MFA (Accession date: XXXX)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Dr. David L. Bloom and family in honor of his mother, Sara Galner Bloom

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 12.7 x 29.5 cm (5 x 11 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2007.366

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware with glaze

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Earthenware

    More Info
  • Rabbit bowl

    December 1908
    Paul Revere Pottery of the Saturday Evening Girls club (active 1908–1942), Decorated by Sara Galner (American, born Austria–Hungary, 1894–1982)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

    Description

    The Paul Revere Pottery was established in Boston’s North End in 1908 under the direction of Edith Guerrier and her artistic partner, Edith Brown. Guerrier ran the neighborhood’s branch of the Boston Public Library and had developed educational clubs for local immigrant girls, primarily of Italian and Eastern European heritage. The clubs were part of a city-wide effort to keep these girls “off the streets” and to assimilate them into the American way of life.

    Financed by philanthropist Helen Osborne Storrow, the pottery’s mission was to help support the library clubs and to offer the oldest girls, members of the Saturday Evening Girls (SEG) club, an opportunity to earn money in a healthy and stimulating work environment. This child’s bowl - decorated with rabbits, turtles, and the advice “The race is not always to the swift”- is one of the earliest known works produced by the pottery and shows the early, gritty surfaces that were soon replaced with high gloss glazes.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    "THE RACE IS NOT ALWAYS TO THE SWIFT"

    Markings

    (painted on base): "35 12 08 / S.E.G." [surrounded by a polygon] (in pencil on base): "S.G."- very faint

    Provenance

    Early history unknown; some time between 1987 and 2005, acquired by Dr. David L. Bloom, Morristown, NJ, then Boston, MA; given by Dr. David L. Bloom to the MFA (Accession date: XXXX)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Dr. David L. Bloom and family in honor of his mother, Sara Galner Bloom

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 3.8 x 15.6 cm (1 1/2 x 6 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2007.367

    Medium or Technique

    Earthenware with glaze

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Earthenware

    More Info
  • Necklace

    American
    1910–18
    Josephine Hartwell Shaw (American, 1865–1941)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Pendant of two white jade tear-shaped carvings with nine squares and three rectangular green stones on a four strand chain interrupted by four groups of five and two groups of three rectangular green stones. Carved white jade clasp.


    Like craftspeople working in other media, jewelry makers of the Arts and Crafts Movement favored unusual materials and finishes, searching for novel combinations of color and texture. They chose uncut, naturally shaped, semi- and non-precious stones, even pebbles, over faceted diamonds and rubies, and dull surfaces over polished. They wanted to highlight the inherent beauty of each element within an overall harmonious composition.

    A prominent member of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, Josephine Shaw earned the admiration of her fellow artisans and the public for her outstanding jewelry. Shaw often drew inspiration from Asian cultures. She composed this necklace around the two pieces of carved, eighteenth-century white jade from China. She complemented these exotic, presumably expensive elements with rectangles of common green glass set in green-toned gold. The rhythmic repetition of the glass with the loops, rods, and balls of gold does not overwhelm but rather enhances the subtle tones and delicate carving of the jade.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    The necklace originally belonged to the mother-in-law of the donor. Collection of Nancy Loring by 1975; inherited by her daughter-in-law, Anne B. Loring 1975; to MFA December 17, 1984, gift.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. Atherton Loring

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall (pendant): 10.2 x 9.2 x 0.6 cm (4 x 3 5/8 x 1/4 in.) Length (chain): 83.8 cm (33 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.947

    Medium or Technique

    Gold, jade, colored glass

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas, Jewelry

    Classifications

    Jewelry / Adornment, Necklaces and neck bands

    More Info
  • Child's bed

    about 1913
    Designed by Ralph Adams Cram (American, 1863–1942), Carved by John Kirchmayer (American, born in Germany (?), 1860–1930), Made by William F. Ross and Company (active about 1904–1921)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Small joined bed with high, cantilevered headboard; frame-and-panel backboard decorated with a central angel; sides of headboard with diamond-piercing in lower section containing carved and gilt flower, and with carved and gilt decoration at skirt, and with engaged quarter-columns at rear with carved and gilt rosettes; upper portion of side panels contain freestanding gilt and polychrome carved angels, flanked by oval cut-outs, supporting projecting roof; roof of board and batten construction, with carved gilt inscription against blue ground on horizontal strips; low shaped sides tenoned and bolted to head- and footboards (replacing original higher sides with vertical slats); footboard with three panels and with inward facing angels and other decoration echoing headboard.


    Although Arts and Crafts rhetoric espoused morality, honesty, and simplicity, the movement was not explicitly associated with religion. Its secular spirituality attracted many followers, and others blended their own religious beliefs into the Arts and Crafts lifestyle and their creations. Architect Ralph Adams Cram, a devout Catholic renowned for his church buildings, was one of the founding members of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston. Like many Bostonians, Cram looked to the arts of the Middle Ages for inspiration and was particularly drawn to the ecclesiastical style of the era, the Gothic. In his reform Gothic Revival designs, Cram experimented with merging the old and the new; he sought to create works “in a medieval spirit vitalized by modern conditions.”

    This combination is seen in domestic scale in the bed Cram designed for his daughter Elizabeth. The labor-intensive panel-and-frame construction and hand-carved ornament evoke the craftsmanship of the Middle Ages. Yet the Gothic lettering of the biblical inscription and the painted and gilt guardian angels at each corner of the bed frame introduce an abstract quality that suggests the modern. The carved elements of the bed were executed by Boston’s leading carver of the Arts and Crafts period, John (Johannes) Kirchmayer. A frequent collaborator of Cram’s, Kirchmayer emigrated from Germany in the 1890s and quickly became known for the quality and distinctive style of his religious carvings. The bed’s angels are a provocative mix of distinctive facial features and stylized, abstract bodies and clothing. Originally made as a crib with vertical slats on the sides, the piece was modified into a youth’s bed as Elizabeth grew.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    "Quoniam angelis fuis man / davit de te [rosette] ut cuftodiant / te in omnibus viis fuis [rosette]". Inscription is gilt against blue ground on horizontal strips. Translation: "For He will entrust you to His angels to guard you in all your ways" (from Psalm 91)

    Markings

    Metal plaque attached to underside of foot board: " W F Ross & Co. / 201-5 Bridge st / East Cambridge Ma"

    Provenance

    Descended in the family of the artist; 1997, given to the Museum by David W. Scudder and Judith S. Robinson in memory of their grandfather, Ralph A. Cram (Accession Date: November 19, 1997)

    Credit Line

    Gift of David W. Scudder and Judith S. Robinson in memory of their grandfather, Ralph Adams Cram

    Details

    Dimensions

    201.93 x 93.98 x 193.04 cm (79 1/2 x 37 x 76 in.)

    Accession Number

    1997.210

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut with polychrome and gilt decoration, oak

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Candlestick

    1917
    Elizabeth Ethel Copeland (American, 1866–1957)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    The silver candlestick has a square base, with each side inclining slightly toward a single square column. Each side is decorated with cloisonné enamel decoration of pansy-like flowers and leaves. Concentric circles of blue and yellow enamel form bosses that are placed midway along the length of the column. Geometric wire decoration is applied throughout, surrounding the enameled base and extending along the column shaft; each wire terminates in a spherical ball.


    Elizabeth Copeland was one of New England’s most prominent enamelists of the Arts and Crafts period. She was born in Revere, Massachusetts, and from 1900 to 1904 attended the Cowles Art School in Boston, where she studied design with Amy Sacker (1876 – 1965). Her influential metalsmithing teacher at Cowles was Laurin Hovey Martin, who became the first professor in this medium at the Massachusetts College of Art. Martin had recently returned from England, where he had studied at the Birmingham School of Art and with master enamelist Alexander Fisher (1864 – 1936) in London. In 1905 Copeland attended a summer course titled “Principles of Design,” offered at Harvard College by Denman Ross, a Museum of Fine Arts trustee; there she met artists and teachers from around the country.
    Copeland was thirty-four years old when she began her studies at Cowles and wasted little time in establishing her career. Evidence of her talent was noted as early as 1903, when her enamelwork appeared in The Craftsman. Soon after, she was featured in an essay by Syracuse University professor Irene Sargent. The article recounted Copeland’s student years spent commuting three times per week between Revere and Boston. The artist recalled performing her domestic duties at home while studying assigned design problems, which she pinned above her ironing board, noting dryly: “No doubt the garments suffered.”
    At Cowles, Copeland was befriended by Sarah Choate Sears (1858 – 1935), a Boston collector, Museum of Fine Arts philanthropist, photographer, and fellow craftswoman. Sears supported the young artist by funding a tour to Europe in 1908 and, for a time, provided her with bench space in her own studio. By that date Copeland had achieved recognition for her silver boxes, which were often repousséd and always enameled in an evocation of medieval reliquaries. After a brief period with the Handicraft Shop, Copeland established a home and studio at 296 Boylston Street that she maintained from 1905 to 1912; in 1913 she moved to 294 Boylston Street, staying there until at least 1927.
    Copeland supported herself through her craft, which she was able to promote by submitting work to exhibitions in the national Arts and Crafts community. Although her mainstay appears to have been small jewel boxes, she also produced hollowware and jewelry. She was recognized for her achievements in Boston, Detroit, and Chicago, three metropolitan cities that boasted strong Arts and Crafts communities. She also received a bronze medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and, in 1916, was appointed a medalist by the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, its highest honor reserved for lifetime achievement. By that date, her work was sought by museums and collectors, including Detroit philanthropist George C. Booth, the Detroit Art Institute, and the Cincinnati Art Museum.
    Copeland’s contemporaries considered her work to be medieval in style, and indeed her use of heavy cloison wires to define enameling areas, as well as her liberal use of rich color, is reminiscent of that era. Her subject matter included stylized interpretations of flora and fauna and the occasional figure. Her loose and often asymmetrical style, sometimes accented with the irregular forms of unfaceted semiprecious gems and baroque or blister pearls, appears in both her jewelry and wrought forms (fig. 2). It bears some relation to the work of Janet Payne Bowles (1876 – 1948), her contemporary, and anticipates metalwork of the 1970s and 1980s, which may partly account for the recent revival of her reputation.
    It is difficult to ascertain the length of Copeland’s career. She resigned her membership in the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, in 1937, at age seventy-one, and died twenty years later, apparently indigent and unmarried.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    Incised on base "EC / 1917."

    Provenance

    Early history unknown. Acquired from Christie's East, 17 April 1997, sale number 7989, lot no. 101.

    Credit Line

    Gift of The Seminarians in honor of J. E. Robinson III

    Details

    Dimensions

    18.73 x 10.48 x 10.48 cm (7 3/8 x 4 1/8 x 4 1/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1997.56

    Medium or Technique

    Silver with enamel decoration

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Metalwork

    More Info
  • Punch bowl

    about 1912
    Clemens Friedell (American, 1872–1963)

    Place Depicted: Pasadena, California; Object Place: Pasadena, California

    Description

    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.

    Inscription

    "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

    Markings

    "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.

    Provenance

    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.

    Credit Line

    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

    Details

    Dimensions

    Other: 36.2 x 45.1 cm (14 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2003.730

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Rocking chair

    about 1912
    Designed by George Washington Maher (American, 1864–1926)

    Object Place: Kenilworth, Illinois, United States

    Description

    George Washington Maher and his fellow Prairie School architects designed low, horizontal houses with long banks of windows, overhanging roofs, and coordinated furnishings. Maher took the concept of unified design even further than his contemporaries with his “motif rhythm theory,” which advocated the use of a limited number of repeated elements to “bind the design together.” He argued that the specific motifs should be individualized to the home, drawn from the local landscape or personal interests of his client.

    Rockledge, a summer residence built in 1912 along the Mississippi River in Homer, Minnesota, was an exemplary manifestation of Maher’s theory. His chosen motifs included a segmented arch and trapezoidal guttae (an ornamental architectural detail)-simple, geometric shapes that did not overwhelm or distract from the overall design. These subtle elements reveal his exposure to and interest in the linear and geometric work of avant-garde European designers of the Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte.

    For this rocker’s design, Maher used the segmented arch for the crest rail and arm supports, and trapezoidal guttae as decorative capitals on vertical posts. The imposing, architectonic form is emphasized by the wide base, tapering front-facing posts, and cornice moldings. Maher even chose the greenish brown stain of the oak to harmonize with the overall color scheme of the home, a mixture of earth tones that complemented the natural setting.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Designed for the E. L. King house "Rockledge", Homer, Minnesota; 1983, purchased from Robert Edwards, The Artsman, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (Accession Date: January 18, 1984)

    Credit Line

    William E. Nickerson Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 94 x 69.9 x 85.1 cm (37 x 27 1/2 x 33 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.20

    Medium or Technique

    Oak, modern leather upholstery

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Furniture, Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Jeweled casket

    1929
    Edward Everett Oakes (American, 1891–1960)

    Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    The rectangular paneled box is made of silver, green gold, 143 amethysts, 18 Japanese pearls, 68 oriental pearls, and 88 onyx, set on a laurel base. It has a hinged, slightly domed lid and round and faceted amethyst ball feet and sits on a narrow, two-tiered, shaped wooden plinth. Round columns form each of the four corners. Two pairs of channel-set amethysts intersect across the lid to create nine panels, at the center of which is a large faceted, elliptical amethyst, from which radiates rays of onyx and pearls. The amethyst bands continue down the sides of the box, where they flank triangular clusters of amethysts, onyx, and pearls; large rectangular amethysts form two shallow handles on the sides as part of these designs. At the base of each corner is a vertical cluster of graduated, rectangular onyx settings with pearls and auricular metalwork. Clusters of delicate gold foliate decoration are found throughout, and large pearls are featured prominently on the lid, at intersections of the amethyst bands and on each corner.
    The box is completely finished on the interior, allowing the user to see the amethysts that adorn the exterior inside the box and lid. Additional pearls mounted with supporting gold settings adorn the lid interior. Concave onyx settings in each corner of the lid are complemented by faceted amethyst stones lodged at the top of the four corner columns. A rectangular wooden tray with silver, gold, pearl, and onyx fittings rests inside. The interior of the base, including the tray, is lined with black velvet.

    This number refers to box and its interior tray. The artist also made a walnut box in which to store the jeweled casket (unnumbered).


    Jeweler Edward Everett Oakes was a prominent member of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston. He began his training in 1909 with Boston jeweler Frank Gardner Hale (1876 – 1945), who had studied silversmithing and enameling with C. R. Ashbee, an English designer and utopian visionary. Oakes spent another three years working with Josephine Hartwell Shaw (1865 – 1941), a Pratt Institute – educated jeweler, before embarking on his own long career in 1917. Hale provided Oakes with a Renaissance design vocabulary, whereas Shaw offered a more sensitive appreciation of color, texture, and suitability to the client.
    While training with Shaw, Oakes was elected to craftsman membership by the society, and in 1917 he was advanced to master craftsman. A prolific artist, Oakes became a member of the society’s Jewelers’ Guild, showing his work regularly at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and similar locations nationwide. In 1923 the society awarded him the Medal of Excellence, their highest honor, and that same year the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased a tasseled pendant from him.
    Employing a naturalistic, asymmetrical style, Oakes selected moonstones, popular among Arts and Crafts artists, along with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and other richly colored stones, which he set amid tiny leaves he fabricated by hand (fig. 4). His delicate foliate decoration was a compositional device that led the eye lyrically from stone to stone; a simple, notched framing device usually enveloped the whole.
    Having achieved significant success, Oakes nevertheless dreamt of creating a masterpiece, and he embarked on the fabrication of the jeweled casket seen here. He spent considerable time searching for the perfectly matched amethysts and pearls. Then, having assembled his materials with great care and expense from sources in Siberia, South America, and Asia, he faced his greatest technical challenge: incorporating the jewels without endangering the leafy settings or warping the silver walls. The box took more than nine months to complete and was exhibited to great acclaim in October 1929 at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.
    Called “architectural in miniature” by the press, the casket was lauded as the artist’s crowning achievement. It was described as having a “cover designed in the spirit of a lightly vaulted roof with a large amethyst for the central dome.” The stepped placement of gemstones at each corner and below the handles suggests an Art Deco aesthetic underlying an Arts and Crafts philosophy of construction. Although Oakes made little hollowware during his career, the bejeweled box functions as a brooch “writ large” and is the magnum opus of a world-class jeweler. Exhibited just days before the stock market crash of October 1929, the box was never sold, although it was widely exhibited until its acquisition by the Museum.
    Oakes trained his son Gilbert (1919 – 1987) in the craft and worked steadily until his death in 1960; nearly all seventy items shown at the artist’s final exhibition in 1959 at the society were purchased, offering proof of his abilities and a devoted clientele during some forty years.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    Marked incuse with an oak leaf within which is stamped "OAKES" on the underside of box.

    Provenance

    By descent to the artist's children, Norma Oakes Errico and Gilbert Oakes (d. 1987), and the family of Gilbert Oakes.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    13.5 x 20.1 x 16.1 cm (5 5/16 x 7 15/16 x 6 5/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2000.628.1a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Silver, green gold, 143 amethysts, 18 Japanese pearls, 68 Oriental pearls, 88 onyx; laurel wood base

    On View

    Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Resting Stag

    About 1916–17
    Elie Nadelman (American, 1882–1946)

    Description

    Figure of a resting stag with antlers, head curving backward, one front leg forward and the other bent backward.


    A native of Warsaw who studied classical art in Munich and moved to Paris in 1904, Elie Nadelman was immersed in the world of the European avant-garde. As he worked to develop his own distinctive style, Nadelman drew upon the smooth linearity and restrained expression of classical Greek art to create boldly simplified figures with curving lines. His work achieved critical acclaim during his years in Paris and attracted the attention of an American patron, Helena Rubenstein. In August 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, Rubenstein helped Nadelman relocate to New York.

    “Resting Stag” is one of a group of animal figures Nadelman created in preparation for an exhibition at the New York gallery Scott and Fowles in 1917. A stylized and graceful work, its clean, flowing lines reflect Nadelman’s synthesis of classical ideals and modern influences. The streamlined contours and luxurious surfaces of the bronze figure and onyx base foreshadowed the sophisticated Art Deco look that emerged in the 1920s.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Collection of the artist; given to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wright Guthridge (his step-daughter [Viola] and husband) upon their marriage in 1919; by gift to their daughter, Mrs. Aileen Guthridge Malinowski; to her estate in 2001; Menconi and Schoelkopf Fine Art, New York, New York.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Frank B. Bemis Fund, Barbara L. and Theodore B. Alfond, an anonymous donor, Edwin E. Jack Fund, Arthur Mason Knapp Fund, Ernest Kahn Fund, Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund, Frederick Brown Fund, Morris and Louise Rosenthal Fund, Samuel Putnam Avery Fund, and Joyce Arnold Rusoff Fund

    Copyright

    Reproduced by permission of Elie Nadelman estate.

    Details

    Dimensions

    45.7 x 53.3 x 26.7 cm (18 x 21 x 10 1/2 in.) including base

    Accession Number

    2002.1

    Medium or Technique

    Bronze, original onyx base

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Armoire

    1926–42
    Company of Master Craftsmen for W. and J. Sloane (active 1925–1942)

    Object Place: Flushing, Queens, New York

    Description

    In the early 1920s, many Americans, including critics, journalists, and even government officials believed that there was little or no good modern design being produced in the United States. In response to that concern, several of the nation’s leading museums and department stores sought to instruct and inspire designers and improve consumer’s taste by exposing them to good styles of the past and the exciting new fashions coming from Europe. In 1925, for example, New York’s top furniture retailer, W. & J. Sloane, established a manufacturing subsidiary named the Company of Master Craftsmen to create affordable reproductions of antiques from a “golden age” of furniture design. Sloane collaborated with curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to make exact copies of some of the museum’s furniture, calling its products “registered reproductions” and suggesting that their faithful reiteration of accepted masterpieces from the past would elevate current taste.

    At the same time, the Metropolitan Museum showcased the latest Art Deco designs in a touring exhibition of modern furniture by French designer Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann. The Company of Master Craftsmen quickly added this new, alternative source for improving the sophistication of American furniture to their repertoire. They developed adaptations of the French designs, such as this armoire, part of an en suite bedroom set. In name, form, and ornament, this piece emulates Ruhlmann’s furniture. Yet its innovative and less expensive materials and construction techniques, including the use of a sprayed-on finish of newly invented cellulous nitrate lacquer as a shiny, protective top coat, demonstrate American ingenuity.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Rear of case: stamped on PL side “G 1051 C”; on PR side “D16003” (with an errant punch on the first zero). PR top corner of the rear is stamped with the logo of the Company of Master Craftsmen: An eagle within an oval with the words “The Company of / Master Craftsmen” in capital block print (See Notes section for further drawer marks)

    Provenance

    1994, offered at auction by Dixon Galleries, Inc., 251 Park Avenue South, New York, New York, 10010 (October 19, 1994, sale 941019, lot 169); 1994, purchased by S. Bernard Pare, 222 West 23rd Street, New York, New York 10011; after 1994, acquired from Pare by Priscilla Cunningham, Hampton Bays, New York; 2004, given by Ms. Cunningham to the MFA (Accession Date February 23, 2005).

    Credit Line

    Gift of Priscilla Cunningham in honor of Charles C. Cunningham Jr. and Thomas L. Cunningham

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 134.6 x 92.7 x 52.1 cm (53 x 36 1/2 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.2200

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, lumber-core plywood, cherry, tulipwood, maple, rosewood, brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Punch bowl from the "Jazz Bowl" series

    1931
    Designer Viktor Schreckengost (American, 1906–2008), Molded by Cowan Pottery Studio (active 1919–1931)

    Description

    Cowan Pottery form X-38, with flared shape.


    Requesting something “New Yorkish,” Eleanor Roosevelt commissioned a punch bowl in 1931 for her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, then governor of New York. Twenty-six-year-old designer Viktor Schreckengost created a bowl inspired by the New Year’s Eve festivities he had recently enjoyed in the city. The motifs on the bowl recalled his memories of the brilliant artificial lighting of Broadway and Times Square, jazz music and Radio City Music Hall, illegal cocktails sipped in nightclubs, and the starry night sky glimpsed above looming skyscrapers. The bowl’s linear design, the playful irregularity of the sgraffito (incised) decoration, and the bold blue and black colors reflected the influence of modern Viennese graphic design and ceramics.

    Mrs. Roosevelt was so pleased with the bowl that she immediately ordered two more, confident that they would be useful after her husband was elected president in 1932. After the design received much acclaim, Cowan Pottery produced a small series of similar bowls, including this one. Manufacture could not keep up with demand, however, because the bowl’s sgraffito decoration had to be done by hand. Although Schreckengost refined the design twice to make the process faster and cheaper, production was still too time consuming and the series was discontinued. Dubbed the Jazz Bowl series (after the word JAZZ in the design), the bowls capture the nervous energy of urban nightlife and have become regarded as icons of American Art Deco.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Purchased by John Axelrod, March 18, 1989, Estate of Dr. James Harvey Stubblebine, Christie's, no. 22; to MFA, 1990, gift of John Axelrod.

    Credit Line

    The John Axelrod Collection

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 22.9 x 42.9 cm (9 x 16 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1990.507

    Medium or Technique

    Glazed porcelain with sgrafitto decoration

    On View

    John Axelrod Gallery (Gallery 326)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Ceramics

    More Info
  • 4 Woods (Diana)

    about 1934
    Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976)

    Object Place: New York, New York, United States; Object Place: Paris, France

    Description

    Although more widely known for his mobiles and wire sculptures, Alexander Calder, a third-generation sculptor, made art in many media. In his early career he made more than fifty wood sculptures reflecting the influence of the direct-carving method that such avant-garde sculptors as José de Creeft, Chaim Gross, and William Zorach were exhibiting widely.

    These artists eschewed traditional methods for making fine sculpture, in which the sculptor’s original plaster model was reproduced in marble or bronze by other artisans. They preferred direct, personal engagement with the material-either wood or stone-to carve stylized figures inspired by the spare forms of American folk art, including bird decoys and weather vanes.

    Calder began making wood sculptures in the late 1920s, about the same time he started creating figurative wire sculptures. In his earliest carvings, usually animals or female figures, he allowed the distinctive grain or shape of the wood to suggest the final form; he resisted the suggestion that he produce multiple versions of his 1928 Cow sculpture, explaining, “That piece of wood turned out to be a cow, but the next one might be a cat. How do I know?” As Calder’s other works became increasingly abstract in the mid-1930s, so did his wood sculptures. Diana reflects this later phase in its smooth, streamlined shapes that subtly suggest a female figure crowned by a crescent moon. Rather than being carved from a single block of wood, Diana is a “stabile” sculpture assembled from component parts that do not move but that suggest a tenuous sense of balance.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Paul D. Nelson, architect (98 Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, Paris 13, France); 1960, purchased by the MFA from Paul D. Nelson (April 14, 1960).

    Credit Line

    Frederick Brown Fund

    Copyright

    © 2011 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 77.5 x 45.1 x 48.9 cm (30 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    60.956

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut with steel pins, iron base

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • Scale-model for Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial

    1949–52
    Walker Hancock (American, 1901–1998)

    Description

    Levitating, robed angel with wings arched over head, holds deceased, bare-chested male soldier in arms. Figures rise from rectangular base. The sculpture comes apart in five sections.


    Walker Hancock, dean of American figurative sculptors in the twentieth century, is perhaps best known for his Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial. Weighing ten-and-a-half tons and standing about forty feet tall, this bronze sculpture of an enormous winged angel lifting a dying soldier was commissioned for the grand concourse of Thirtieth Street station in Philadelphia. Dedicated in 1952, it commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by more than thirteen hundred men and women of the Pennsylvania Railroad during World War II.

    As Hancock explained, “the tall vertical form” of the monument was dictated by the architecture of the cavernous space it was designed to occupy; the sculpture blends harmoniously with the fluted columns and windows of the station. Avoiding sentimentality, Hancock fashioned the figures in his own manner of modern classical realism, featuring broad surfaces and simple yet powerful forms. The plaster model of the memorial seen here, about one-third the size of the completed work, remained in the artist’s studio on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, until his death.

    Born in Saint Louis, Hancock studied at the American Academy in Rome in the 1920s and spent much of his professional life as a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he had been a student of the famous portrait sculptor Charles Grafly. During his long career, he created a large body of architectural sculpture, war memorials, religious works, portraits (including many figure studies of presidents), and medals. While he achieved widespread acclaim as a key figure in modern realism, Hancock was known as much for his strength of character and noble spirit as for the high quality of his work.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    From the artist's estate.

    Credit Line

    Bequest of Walker Hancock

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 365.9 cm (12 ft.) Block (Base): 89.5 x 61.6 x 54.3 cm (35 1/4 x 24 1/4 x 21 3/8 in.) Block (top of base - with legs): 81.9 x 41.3 x 36.8 cm (32 1/4 x 16 1/4 x 14 1/2 in.) Block (Torso of angel and man): 103.5 x 38.1 cm (40 3/4 x 15 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.377

    Medium or Technique

    Painted plaster with mixed media armature

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Sculpture

    More Info
  • DCM (Dining Chair Metal)

    designed 1945–46; made 1946–47
    Designed by Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978), Manufactured by Evans Products Company (Molded Plywood Division) (active 1943–1946), Distributed by Herman Miller Furniture Company (active 1923–present)

    Object Place: Venice, California; Object Place: Grand Haven, Michigan

    Description

    Back and seat of molded plywood shaped in compound curves. Curved chrome metal bar connects back and seat, attached with rubber shock mounts. Attached to this bar are u-shaped metal bars for front and back legs, the front being slightly longer. Feet are applied rubber and chrome pads.


    In the early 1940s, designers and newlyweds Charles and Ray Eames pioneered a production method to simultaneously bend plywood in more than one direction, using their homemade Kazam machine. With this innovation, which the artists named for its speed and efficiency-you put in a piece of wood and “Kazam!” It’s bent!-they won a commission from the U.S. Navy to design plywood leg splints and stretchers for wounded sailors, featuring compound curves to support the body. They applied the same technology after the war in the body-conforming design of the DCW and DCM. This chair was exhibited in 1947 at the Museum of Modern Art, after which the Eameses gave it to their friend and fellow furniture designer Edward J. Wormley. This early example shows details of the original design-such as the rubber caps on the feet-that were modified in later production.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Edward J. Wormley

    Copyright

    Used with permission. Herman Miller, Inc.® Eames®

    Details

    Dimensions

    74.61 x 48.89 x 50.8 cm (29 3/8 x 19 1/4 x 20 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.31

    Medium or Technique

    Ash plywood, rubber shock mounts, steel

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • DCW (Dining Chair Wood)

    designed 1945–46, made 1946–47
    Designed by Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978), Manufactured by Evans Products Company (Molded Plywood Division) (active 1943–1946), Distributed by Herman Miller Furniture Company (active 1923–present)

    Object Place: Venice, California, United States; Object Place: Grand Haven, Michigan

    Description

    Back and seat of molded plywood, shaped in compound curves. A heavier C-shaped piece of plywood connects back and seat to which U-shaped back legs are connected. Front legs are slightly longer and attached to underside of seat with rubber shock mounts.


    In the early 1940s, designers and newlyweds Charles and Ray Eames pioneered a production method to simultaneously bend plywood in more than one direction, using their homemade Kazam machine. With this innovation, which the artists named for its speed and efficiency-you put in a piece of wood and “Kazam!” It’s bent!-they won a commission from the U.S. Navy to design plywood leg splints and stretchers for wounded sailors, featuring compound curves to support the body. They applied the same technology after the war in the body-conforming design of the DCW and DCM. This chair was exhibited in 1947 at the Museum of Modern Art, after which the Eameses gave it to their friend and fellow furniture designer Edward J. Wormley.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Edward J. Womley

    Copyright

    Used with permission. Herman Miller, Inc.® Eames®

    Details

    Dimensions

    73.34 x 48.89 x 52.07 cm (28 7/8 x 19 1/4 x 20 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.32

    Medium or Technique

    Plywood with walnut veneer, rubber

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • RAR (Rocking Armchair Rod)

    designed 1948–50; made about 1950–53
    Designed by Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978), Designed by Ray Eames (American, 1912–1988), Manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company (active 1923–present), Molded by Zenith Plastics Co.

    Object Place: Zeeland, Michigan, United States; Object Place: Gardenia, California

    Description

    One piece molded fiberglass body shaped for human form. Steel legs attached to plastic seat with rubber shock mounts. Network of stretchers attached to legs, crossing at sides, back and center. Curved wooden rockers bolted onto legs. Note that “Rod” in the title of this model chair refers to the metal rods in the base; the chair could be purchased with a variety of different base structures.


    In the early 1940s, designers and newlyweds Charles and Ray Eames pioneered a production method to simultaneously bend plywood in more than one direction, using their homemade Kazam machine.

    With the RAR, the Eameses continued their efforts to design comfortable and affordable furniture using new industrial materials. They originally designed the RAR to be shaped in metal and sprayed with a neoprene coating (a synthetic rubber) for comfort. However, by the time the chair went into production in 1950, the manufacturer, Herman Miller Furniture, was able to make the seat in polyester, reinforced with strands of fiberglass and easily molded into an enveloping bucket shape. Customers could order the lightweight plastic chair in a range of bright, cheerful colors and with a variety of leg options in tubular steel or bent wire.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Edward J. Wormley

    Copyright

    Used with permission. Herman Miller, Inc.® Eames®

    Details

    Dimensions

    68.58 x 62.86 x 59.69 cm (27 x 24 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.33

    Medium or Technique

    Molded polyester fiberglass composite, steel and birch rockers, rubber shock mounts

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • DKR-2 ("Bikini " chair)

    designed 1951; made 1951-53
    Designed by Charles Eames (American, 1907–1978), Designed by Ray Eames (American, 1912–1988), Manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company (active 1923–present)

    Object Place: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

    Description

    Two-piece azure-colored leather upholstery. Grid-patterned bucket seat sets upon a wire base. Wire painted black. Note that “Rod” in the title of this model chair refers to the metal rods in the base; the chair could be purchased with a variety of different base structures. “Bikini” refers to the style of upholstery.


    In the early 1940s, designers and newlyweds Charles and Ray Eames pioneered a production method to simultaneously bend plywood in more than one direction, using their homemade Kazam machine. With the DKR-2, the Eameses continued their efforts to design comfortable and affordable furniture using new industrial materials. This DKR-2 chair, with its original blue leather upholstery, is one of a pair donated to the Museum by the owners of a prototype house with modern furnishings that was featured in a 1954 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, a leading disseminator of home fashion.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Labels on underside: Ink on paper "State of New York / Department of Labor / 1c inspection stamp / Division of bedding 1 c" Ink on cloth tag: "Space to attach / Do not remove this tag / under penalty of law. / All new material / consisting of oily cattle body hair / Reg. no. CALWW 2097 PER. No. Comm-2700 / Reg. no. Cal-7053 Per. No. NY- 569 / Per. No. Pa-607 / Certification if / Made that the / materials in this / articles are De- / scribed in ac- / cordance with / law. / contents sterilized [visible under stamp] Minn. / approved April 24, 1929; New Jersey re- / vised STATUTES 26; 10- / 6 to 18. / Made by / HERMAN MILLER FURNITURE COMPANY / 901 W. Washington Blvd. Venice, California / date of delivery.

    Provenance

    1953, purchased from McCurdy's Department Store, Rochester, New York by Roger and Doris Goodrich, Rochester, New York; 1985, given by the Goodriches, then of Squantum, Massachusetts to the MFA (Accession date: April 24, 1985)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Roger and Doris Goodrich

    Copyright

    Used with permission. Herman Miller, Inc.® Eames®

    Details

    Dimensions

    81.28 x 44.45 x 49.53 cm (32 x 17 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    1985.185

    Medium or Technique

    Painted steel wire, original leather upholstery

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • "Contour" beverage service

    designed 1951–52; made 1953–about 1960
    Designed by Robert J. King (American, born in 1917)

    Object Place: Newburyport, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    The silver beverage service is composed of a pitcher with lid, covered sugar bowl, and creamer that has a biomorphic shape and flat base. The pitcher handle is a translucent turquoise plastic.


    Towle Silversmiths has its roots in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where William Moulton II (b. 1664) first practiced his craft and where, for nearly two hundred years, at least one or two Moultons were engaged in the trade. The Towle name was introduced in 1857, when Anthony F. Towle and William P. Jones, apprentices under William Moulton IV (1772 – 1861), established Towle & Jones; over time that firm absorbed the Moulton business. The company underwent several name changes but had become generally known as Towle Manufacturing Company by 1882 and, soon after, as Towle Silversmiths.
    When Charles C. Withers was hired as president, the company diverged from their well-respected and large line of historically derived flatware and hollowware. Withers sought to inject a contemporary line into their silver offerings, and about 1949 he hired John Van Koert as head designer, based on the recommendation of Margret Craver (see cat. no. 335). Van Koert set Towle on a path toward contemporary design as competition for modern-minded consumers grew among American and Scandinavian manufacturers.
    The Contour pattern was the company’s first foray into contemporary silver. Designed by Robert J. King (b. 1917) under Van Koert’s leadership, it was launched with great fanfare in 1951. In a most unusual marketing strategy, Contour was featured center stage at an exhibition entitled “Knife/Fork/Spoon,” held that year at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The show was sponsored by the company, and (as might be expected) competing firms were not represented. Its stated mission was to consider the role of utensils from a wide range of cultures and periods to chart “the story of our primary eating implements and the development of their form.” Historic and ethnographic objects were borrowed from leading American fine-art and natural-history institutions.
    The exhibition arranged objects chronologically, from prehistoric stone knives and Pacific island horn spoons to sixteenth-century English flatware and, finally, Towle’s Contour, which had been released about 1950. The pattern appeared on several pages of the exhibition catalogue, positioned as the apex in the evolutionary development of utensils. It was compared favorably to an unnamed floral flatware pattern, from the viewpoint of “good design,” and was also featured in a table setting with Museum dinnerware designed by Eva Zeisel and glassware by Josef Hoffman, two high-profile artists whose inclusion conferred further status upon the flatware. To emphasize the Contour pattern’s modernity and relationship to international art, it was compared with Konstantin Brancusi’s sculpture titled Bird in Space; the text emphasized the “elimination of non-essentials” and “guarded use of ornamentation” expected of contemporary flatware.
    Towle’s sponsorship of the exhibition, while exclusionary, was related to a trend in American museums that stretched back to the 1920s, when the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston had actively sought relationships with industry to improve or promote good design. Indeed, Towle initiated a number of silver exhibitions during the 1950s in an effort to educate consumers while drawing attention to the firm’s products.
    This beverage service was released in December 1953, more than two years after the flatware was introduced. The beverage server was described as suitable “for coffee, for cocktails, for water, for any liquid, hot or cold.” At a time when many tableware manufacturers were reducing the number of elements in their services to attract busy consumers, the pitcher was an elegant form that could serve several purposes. It could be purchased singly for $200 or complemented by a sugar bowl ($75), creamer ($50), salt and pepper shakers ($50), or candlesticks ($35).
    The advertising copy for the service stated that Contour provided a “contemporary buffet ensemble for the connoisseur.” For the consumer, the message was clear: Contour was the ultimate pattern of choice for the sophisticated American home.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    “TOWLE / STERLING / 128 / T / 350” on pitcher

    Provenance

    Original owner unknown. Museum purchase from Argentum - The Leopard's Head, San Francisco, California.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by The Seminarians in memory of Nathaniel T. Dexter

    Details

    Dimensions

    Pitcherl: 26 x 17.8 x 8.4 cm (10 1/4 x 7 x 3 5/16 in.) Sugar bowl: 8.8 x 8.6 x 7 cm (3 7/16 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.) Creamer: 10.8 x 8.6 x 7 cm (4 1/4 x 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2001.260.1a-b-3

    Medium or Technique

    Silver, polystryene

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Onion teapot

    1954
    John Prip (American, 1922–2009)

    Object Place: Rochester, New York, United States

    Description

    The onion-shaped teapot is in the form of a compressed sphere, from which the central cover and finial rise. The woven rattan handle forms a whiplash curve that widens before turning inward to the body. The cone-shaped lid seats seamlessly in the vessel’s bezel-set opening. An ebony finial is shaped to meet the lid, extending vertically in a trumpet form.
    Prototype for teapot produced by Reed & Barton.


    John Prip is a pivotal figure in the history of American studio silver. Born in New York to a Danish metalsmithing family, Prip was a fourth-generation metalsmith familiar from childhood with workshop activities. His family returned to Denmark while Prip was a young child; he later attended Copenhagen Technical College, where for five years he was apprenticed to Evald Nielson, graduating in 1942. He continued to build on his considerable technical skills between 1945 and 1948 while working for the family business and other Danish concerns. In 1948, at age twenty-six, he was recruited to head the metals department at the newly founded School for American Craftsmen (SAC) in Alfred, New York.
    The school was an outgrowth of several crafts organizations spearheaded by Aileen Osborn Webb (1892 – 1979), founder of the Handicraft League of America, the American Craftsman’s Council, and the Contemporary Craft Museum (now the Museum of Arts & Design). Webb’s concern with the loss of traditional craft techniques, coupled with the return of many veterans in need of job training or rehabilitation, led to the school’s creation in 1948. In their choice of Prip, the school was fortunate to engage an artist who had been thoroughly trained in all aspects of metalsmithing yet was willing to explore new forms and challenge functional aspects of the craft.
    Prip left SAC in 1954 to pursue consulting and design work. He worked for a few years at Shop One, an early craft gallery that he established with professor and furnituremaker Tage Frid, potter Frans Wildenhain, and former student silversmith Ron Pearson. He taught during the early 1960s at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, during the tenure of Joseph Sharrock, while continuing to search for a different manner in which to express himself.
    It was in the short-lived role of designer-craftsman that Prip saw the next chapter of his career unfold. Upon the recommendation of James S. Plout, first director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, to Roger Hallowell, then company president, he joined Reed & Barton, the silver manufacturer based in Taunton, Massachusetts. Following developments at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning in the late 1920s, Plout had created a Design in Industry department in 1948 to foster partnerships between rising designers and manufacturers. Reed & Barton was the first company to participate, and Ronald Hayes Pearson (1924 – 1996), Prip’s colleague from SAC, was among the first “Institute Associates” of 1955. It was through these associations that Prip’s name came forward as company designer.
    During his tenure as designer/craftsman-in-residence, Prip produced several designs for domestic wares that marked the brief union of craftsmen with industry during the 1950s and 1960s. This teapot, called the “onion teapot” by the artist, was made in Rochester in 1954. It was shown in 1957 to Reed & Barton as an example of Prip’s abilities. Shortly after he joined the company, the teapot became a signature piece for the production of Dimension hollowware and flatware. The technical skills needed to create the teapot exemplify Prip’s exacting Danish training. However, his form and design solutions, such as the extended hinge and the tension achieved in the attenuated accents of the handle and finial, mark him as an innovative silversmith of first rank.
    In 1963 Prip joined the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he taught until his retirement in 1980. He retained his affiliation with Reed & Barton, however, producing the Tapestry flatware pattern in 1964. He retired from the company in 1970.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    Three heart-shaped symbols in a row above “STERLING” in sans-serif letters, struck incuse on base.

    Provenance

    Retained in artist’s personal collection until purchased by the donors as a gift to the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by Stephen and Betty Jane Andrus

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    15.8 x 27.5 x 18.5 cm (6 1/4 x 10 13/16 x 7 5/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1995.137

    Medium or Technique

    Silver, ebony, rattan

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Necklace

    about 1958
    Art Smith (American, born in Cuba, 1917–1982)

    Object Place: New York, New York

    Description

    Large silver necklace comprised of three free-form elements each with three applied bezel-set stones (semi-precious). Framed and connected by hammered flat curved silver elements.


    Art Smith, born in New York to parents of African-Caribbean descent, was a seminal figure in the American studio jewelry movement. From 1942 to 1946, Smith studied at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and during those years also trained in metalsmithing with jeweler Winifred Mason. Smith later recalled Mason’s shop as “a little Bauhaus” and a gathering place for African-American artists and writers including Ralph Ellison, Bill Attaway, and Gordon Parks. In 1948, Smith opened his own shop in Greenwich Village, a vibrant art community where many leading modernist jewelers, including Sam Kramer, Frank Rebajes, and Paul Lobel, had studios within blocks of each other.

    Influenced by prevailing art movements such as constructivism, surrealism, and biomorphism, Smith developed an individual style by incorporating in his jewelry the large scale of East African dance regalia, the rhythms of jazz music, and the movement of contemporary African-American dance. Designing stage jewelry for the black dance companies led by Talley Beatty, Pearl Primus, and Claude Marchant may have helped Smith develop his sense of theatricality and interest in the relationship of jewelry to the wearer’s body. This bold necklace demonstrates Smith’s skill in manipulating positive and negative space, creating a sense of flowing movement in asymmetrical, biomorphic forms. As his niece observed, “Arthur…had a capacity to deal with all the senses to the fullest. The ears for the music, the eyes for observing beauty, the hands for making it.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Markings

    Unmarked

    Provenance

    Gansevoort Gallery; Daphne Farago, December 26, 1996; to MFA, 2006, gift of Daphne Farago.

    Credit Line

    The Daphne Farago Collection

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.8 x 26 x 1.9 cm (17 1/4 x 10 1/4 x 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2006.537

    Medium or Technique

    Silver; turquoise, rhodochrosite, chrysoprase, and amethyst (or garnet)

    On View

    The 1940s and 1950s (Gallery 336)

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art, Jewelry

    Classifications

    Necklaces and neck bands

    More Info
  • Camelback Mountain

    1959
    Peter Voulkos (American, 1924–2002)

    Object Place: Berkeley, California, United States

    Description

    Peter Voulkos led a group of California ceramists who radically changed American ceramic arts in the 1950s by moving the field toward abstraction, playful handling of materials, and personal expression. In the early 1950s, after earning his M.F.A. in ceramics at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Voulkos became fascinated by the qualities of improvisation and assemblage found in various media including jazz music, Japanese folk pottery, and the art of Pablo Picasso, Juan Miro, David Smith, and the avant-garde Abstract Expressionist painters. After founding the ceramics department at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1954, he assembled a group of highly talented students who formed something of a revolutionary enclave. His radicalism led to conflict with the Institute’s director, Millard Sheets, and in 1959 Voulkos left to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He continued to be a influential teacher for decades; he traveled widely and gave exciting workshops during which he demonstrated the spontaneous and playful qualities of his work.

    Voulkos assembled Camelback Mountain from hollow, wheel-thrown pots which were then paddled and compressed to destroy their symmetrical shapes. These altered pots, some gouged or sliced open to reveal internal space, were then stacked and attached, creating a dynamic form with contrasting areas of light and shadow, void and mass. While the work exists as a non-functional, sculptural object, it also explores the essence of ceramic vessel forms as open and closed containers. Moreover, this work celebrates the earthy and messy qualities of the clay medium. Camelback Mountain demonstrates how Voulkos’ work revolutionized the clay medium not by merely imitating contemporary sculpture or painting, but by exploiting clay in a fresh and direct way.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Paine, 1967 from David Stuart Gallery, Los Angeles; to MFA, 1978, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Paine.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Paine

    Copyright

    © Voulkos Family Trust. Ann Voulkos, Trustee.

    Details

    Dimensions

    115.57 x 49.53 x 51.43 cm (45 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1978.690

    Medium or Technique

    Stoneware

    On View

    Melvin Blake and Frank Purnell Gallery (Gallery 327)

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Stoneware

    More Info
  • Rocking chair

    1975
    Sam Maloof (American, 1916–2009)

    Object Place: Alta Loma, California, United States

    Description

    Rocking chair with slightly concave crest rail; seven curved slats, shaped like spindles at either end, form back. Rounded back stiles, joined at rocker, seat, and crest rail, extend above crest. Arm rests cut with band saw to curved contour; laminated rockers; exposed joinery; contoured seat.


    The “Maloof rocker” has become the most recognizable and imitated icon of the American studio furniture movement. Admired for its clean curves, graceful proportions, ornamental pinned joints, and rich wood grain, the chair encapsulates the most fully developed qualities of Maloof’s work during his nearly sixty-year career.

    Maloof is a self-taught woodworker who has been called “a master of the bandsaw,” freely guiding the saw to create the curved members of his seating furniture. Although he uses some templates and produces multiples of similar design, Maloof prides himself on hand-shaping each piece. As he has explained, “design does not exist just on paper. It pervades every step in the creation of a piece of furniture.” In this rocker, Maloof sensitively handled the design details throughout the construction process. The arms are gently curved with crisp edges, the sculpted joints make each member of the frame appear to flow into the next, and the seat and backrest are ergonomically shaped to support the sitter in great comfort. Rather than seeking radical design changes, Maloof instead prefers to make slight variations and refinements to his basic formula of restrained and functional furniture.

    The son of Lebanese immigrants, Maloof worked as a graphic artist and draftsman as a young man, and became interested in industrial design after building furniture for his own apartment. He began making furniture full-time in 1948, and gained exposure and connections to clients after an important commission from famed industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss. During the 1950s and 1960s, Maloof focused exclusively on commission work and greatly expanded production at his Alta Loma shop to meet growing demand from West Coast clients. By the 1970s, he had gained legendary status in the field of American studio furniture, devoted more time to lectures and workshops, and earned numerous prestigious awards.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Inscription

    Inscribed on underside of rear rail: "MOFA BOSTON / Sam Maloof 1975 f.A.C.C. / NO. 79"

    Provenance

    1975, commissioned from the artist for the MFA's Please Be Seated program. (Accession date: April 14, 1976)

    Credit Line

    Purchased through funds donated by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Gillette Corporation

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 114.3 x 70.5 x 116.8cm (45 x 27 3/4 x 46in.) Other (Depth of seat): 55.9 cm (22 in.)

    Accession Number

    1976.122

    Medium or Technique

    Walnut

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Delight Rocking Chair

    1980
    Martha Rising Rosson (born in 1954)

    Object Place: Los Angeles, California

    Description

    A masterpiece of technical skill and expressive qualities, Martha Rising’s bentwood rocking chair uses slender laminated members and curved joinery to suggest dynamic motion. Rising accented the light-colored maple frame with padauk and purpleheart; thin strips of these darker woods function like “racing stripes” on an automobile to heighten the impression of energy and movement. As Rising explained in 1984, “the dynamic vitality and rhythm I seek to give each piece allows a relationship to the piece beyond its utilitarian function-it portrays a moment of motion captured or portrayed in the piece.” Although the chair pushed the boundaries of function, Rising demonstrated a traditionalist’s sensitivity to the use of wood as a material. In a 1983 article otherwise disparaging art furniture that was conceptual rather than practical, contemporary furniture maker Art Carpenter praised the care and skill evident in this chair, which he called “a delight of bent forms and fine joinery, a tour de force of craftsmanship which if taken a step further could have become a parody of the bender’s art.”

    Rising (now Martha Rising Rosson) was active in studio furniture-making in California from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. Like other second-generation studio furniture makers, her training included both informal and academic education. After learning basic woodworking and design methods from her father in his home workshop, she majored in “Design in Wood” in the art department at California State University, Northridge. There she earned both a B.A. and M.F.A., visited the studios of noted California furniture makers Sam Maloof, Carpenter, and Larry Hunter, and apprenticed with wood sculptor Michael Jean Cooper. Cooper’s use of complex three-dimensional bending and exotic woods in various colors strongly influenced Rising’s work, although unlike Cooper, Rising consciously worked to remain, in her words, within “the vocabulary of…utilitarian furniture.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    Given by the artist.

    Credit Line

    Gift of the artist

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 83.8 x 58.4 x 121.9 cm (33 1/2 x 23 3/4 x 49 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.256

    Medium or Technique

    Maple, purpleheart, Andaman padauk

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Seating and beds

    More Info
  • Clock

    1979–80
    Frank E. Cummings III (American, born in 1938)

    Object Place: Long Beach, California

    Description

    Ebony and ivory case with three curved glass panels. The case rests upon a free-form stand made of ebony with ivory caps. All parts of the clock works are visible. The handmade wheels have outer rims of African blackwood, and centers of hand-carved ivory. Pinions and arbors are made of highly polished ivory, and each pinion is capped with a star sapphire set in gold. The clock is operated by two ivory and ebony weights with ivory pulleys. The two-day clock chimes on the hour; the resonater is made of African blackwood.


    This tall-case clock by Frank E. Cummings III represents the height of technical virtuosity that emerged in the field of studio furniture in the 1970s. While other artisans at that time were also intrigued by the challenge of building handmade wooden clockworks, Cummings took the art to a new level by using rare precious materials and an idiosyncratic design. This clock’s ebony and ivory frame is enclosed with three curved glass panels to reveal its intricate works, including gears delicately hand carved in ivory and African blackwood and pinions mounted with black star sapphires set in gold. Nearly a year in the making, the clock is perhaps the ultimate “super-object,” reflecting the period’s emphasis on technical prowess and exotic materials.

    Cummings designed and built the clock intuitively, having no training in clock making. He learned some rudimentary principles of gear mechanics by examining nineteenth-century wooden clocks owned by a local clock repairer, but created his own elaborate calculations and drawings for his clockworks. He manipulated the materials with great deliberation; the African blackwood used in the gears was chosen for its extreme hardness and durability, and the grain of the wood and the grain of the ivory in the gears were set in opposite directions to prevent warping. An admirer of the inventive experimentation of Leonardo da Vinci, Cummings took pride in developing his own way of making a functional clock.

    Cummings teaches at California State University, Fullerton. He makes furniture and turned vessels with a variety of precious materials, emphasizing time-intensive workmanship. Inspired by the spiritual meanings of everyday objects in Africa, where he has also studied and taught, and by the religious significance of simple, well-made Shaker furniture, Cummings seeks to reinvest meaning and beauty in functional objects.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    From the artist's collection.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously and from a Gift of the Seminarians in memory of William A. Whittemore and Beck F. Whittemore, and with funds donated by Anne M. Beha and Robert A. Radloff, Susan W. Paine, The Doran Family Charitable Trust, and by exchange from a Gift of J. Templeman Coolidge, Gift of Miss Ruth K. Richardson, Gift of Richard S. Fuller in memory of his wife, Lucy Derby Fuller, Gift of Miss Annie J. Pecker, Gift of William E. Beaman, Gift of George R. Meneely, Gift of Joseph Randolph Coolidge IV, Bequest of Mrs. Ethel Stanwood Bolton, Bequest of Dr. Samuel A. Green, Bequest of Miss Eleanor P. Martin, Bequest of Miss Kate A. Gould, and Bequest of Sarah E. Montague

    Copyright

    © F. Cummings III 79

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 172.7 x 61 x 40.6 cm (68 x 24 x 16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2004.563

    Medium or Technique

    Ebony, ivory, African blackwood, 14 kt gold, black star sapphires, glass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Clocks

    More Info
  • Standing cup with cover

    1986
    Richard Mawdsley (American, born in 1945)

    Object Place: Carterville, Illinois, United States

    Description

    The tall raised bowl has a gradually everted rim and is surmounted by a tall steeple-shaped lid composed of a low dome and three stages of increasingly smaller tubular assemblages. The bowl is supported from below by a smaller corresponding dome and tubular mass. The tall stem is composed of a male head with curly locks made of hollow wire; a head formed in repoussé; and a stylized torso and legs. The body and headdress are composed of narrow tubes that have been shaped and cut to emulate a machinelike appearance. The domed and splayed foot is capped by a second, smaller dome and tubular pattern that echoes the lid.


    The mechanical, the miniature, and man have been the chief features of silver made by Richard Mawdsley. Since his graduation in 1969 from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, the artist has been preoccupied with using these subjects to create a microcosm of the world. Feast Bracelet (1974) was his first such work to attract national attention. More of a corsage than a bracelet, its principal feature is a “table” bearing a tiny teakettle on stand, a coffeepot, pouring and drinking vessels, a half-eaten berry pie, fruit, utensils, and linen, all fabricated by the artist. The lovingly detailed version of a Dutch still life won admiration. Critics hailed his precision in creating historical objects to scale as well as his uncanny ability to provide a dignified setting for the meal and its invisible guests, set within a futuristic environment.
    The modernistic tubular elements that support and frame this standing cup with cover have come to dominate the artist’s work. He uses them to evoke the mechanical elements of farm machinery that first entranced him as a midwestern boy. In the 1990s, he fabricated giant water towers, for which tubular and related mechanical forms constitute the structural basis. The variation in shape and scale conveys the feel of a miniature, yet the overall result is one of enormity, as the viewer is drawn ever deeper into the object and the immense world conjured by the artist. Moreover, the machine-made appearance of his creations belies the months of painstaking benchwork required to complete them.
    This standing cup with cover was inspired by ecclesiastical and Renaissance examples. Its stem is expressed in the form of a male figure whose chest is a virtual engine of machine tubing. The figure’s frontal pose and curly hair recall Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. The vessel can be interpreted as a modern corollary to the progressive humanism of the fourteenth century.
    The female form had been a subject for Mawdsley from the early years of his career, and in fact the Museum’s example began as such. The artist created female figures in repoussé (Goneril, Regan, Cordelia, 1976) and as a pendant with torso (Wonderwoman in Her Bicentennial Finery, 1976; Medusa, 1979 – 80; and Headdress, 1982).
    The cup’s male figure offers an optimistic view of the mechanical world by virtue of its dignified presence. Although Mawdsley has moved away from depicting the figure in his water tower series, humanity’s place within these elaborate constructs can be gleaned from the tiny tools that are found scattered about the sculpture. The tools hint at the presence of workmen who have momentariy stepped away from the site. Like the cup’s central figure, they are reminders of the human dimension in a perfectly conceived “Mawdsleyan” world.

    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

    None.

    Markings

    “RM STERLING” and “SN /AG” struck on base.

    Provenance

    Purchased by an anonymous donor in 1988 from Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and made a gift to the Museum.

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 43.8 x 9.2 cm (17 1/4 x 3 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1988.535a-b

    Medium or Technique

    Silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Silver hollowware

    More Info
  • Leopard Chest

    1989
    Judy Kensley McKie (American, born in 1944)

    Object Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Carved chest-on-legs with gilded leopards intertwined with black plants on a reddish background. Top has rubbed black framing with carved, painted leopard images on outside and inside.


    After earning a degree in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, Judy McKie turned to furniture making in the early 1970s. Her first designs were utilitarian, but as she gained proficiency she desired greater personal expression. Seeking to make “inanimate objects that are animated,” McKie looked to the art of Precolumbian, African, and Native American cultures for inspiration. She developed her own vocabulary of abstracted plants and animals to enliven her works, either as surface decoration or as sculpted structural members.

    The stylized, grinning leopards that decorate all sides of this chest represent the best qualities of McKie’s imaginative and expressive carved furniture. McKie created this chest in response to a painted, carved, and gilded one in the MFA’s collection by Charles Prendergast. She shares Prendergast’s interest in using surface decoration to evoke a sense of “primitivism” and mystery. To ornament the “Leopard Chest,” McKie carved and painted the basswood panels, and built up a japanned surface using layers of shellac and boule (a red pigment). She painted the chest and rubbed the frame with cotton to create an aged finish, and then gold leafed, burnished, and rubbed the carved leopards. The result is a richly varied surface that is both elegant and energetic.

    McKie uses efficient joinery and plain-figured woods so as not to distract from her designs, and sometimes (as here) she hires other craftsmen to execute the basic case construction. Simplifying the construction process allows her to focus on visual expression through her carving and finishes. She has explained, “I think first of the image. The craftsmanship is very much integrated in the work, but I don’t think it is more important than the idea.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Provenance

    1989, made by the artist for the "New American Furniture" exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; 1991, purchased by the MFA (Accession date: June 26, 1991)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously

    Copyright

    © Judy Kensley McKie

    Details

    Dimensions

    84.77 x 126.68 x 45.72 cm (33 3/8 x 49 7/8 x 18 in.)

    Accession Number

    1991.444

    Medium or Technique

    Basswood, oil paint, gold leaf

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Case furniture and boxes

    More Info
  • Mirage Lake

    1984
    Wayne Higby (born in 1943)

    Object Place: Alfred, New York, United States

    Description

    Thrown bowl with curved sides, slightly altered from the circular. White, blue, brown, purple, and gray glazes with crackle from landscape decoration. Raku fired.


    Wayne Higby studied painting in college but became a ceramist after an epiphany during a junior-year trip abroad. While traveling in the Mediterranean, he visited the Heraklion Museum on the island of Crete, where he encountered Minoan pots of the Bronze Age. As he later described the experience, he was swept away by the pots and their “magnificent sense of shape, volume,” and painted decoration; he claims, “I became a potter the day I walked into that museum.” Upon his return to the United States, Higby sought out training in ceramics and studied with studio potters Betty Woodman and Fred Bauer. He has since become a leader in American ceramics, teaching for more than thirty years at the famed New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York, and producing work that has been exhibited and acquired by major museums across the country.

    A landscape image that envelops both the interior and exterior of a vessel is the dominant motif of Higby’s elegant ceramics. The artist credits his childhood in Colorado with instilling his love of “being in the landscape.” Like the nineteenth-century American landscape painters he admires, including Albert Bierstadt and Frederick Edwin Church, Higby says he tries to capture a sense of being in a particular geographic place. At the same time, he highly values the clay vessel as a format for his work, focusing particularly on the large bowl form because of its universal, abstract qualities.

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    Impressed seal at foot: WH

    Markings

    On bottom: "84" in oval

    Provenance

    Purchased by MFA, 1984, from Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia.

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mary-Louise Meyer in memory of Norman Meyer

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    27.94 x 46.99 x 42.54 cm (11 x 18 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.770

    Medium or Technique

    Raku-fired earthenware

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Earthenware

    More Info
  • Soleggiata Serena

    2000
    Artist Toots Zynsky (American, born in 1951)

    Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

    Description

    Fan-shaped filet-de-verre (fused and thermo-formed colored glass threads).


    Toots Zynsky’s distinct contribution to the studio glass movement is her original method of fusing and shaping layers of fine glass threads into vessel forms. Using thousands of hair-thin threads of varying colors and lengths, Zynsky places groups of them together in patches of color on a board, so that the bottom layer will eventually form the outside of the vessel. She then heats the flat layers of threads until they fuse, removing the layered glass from the oven at varying stages to manipulate it into a bowl form with spatulas or to slump (or bend) it in a steel bowl or mold. The threads remain distinct after fusing, so that the vessel appears to be made of many delicate fibers; the overlapping streaks of color resemble a painter’s brushstrokes. Deeply fluted edges allow the viewer to consider the inner and outer surfaces of this bowl simultaneously.

    Zynsky trained during the early years of the studio glass movement, when a great sense of experimentation prevailed. She studied with famed glass artist Dale Chihuly at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 1970s and was later one of the first students at his Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle. After working in multimedia art, she developed her technique of fusing hand-pulled glass threads in the mid-1980s while living in Amsterdam. Mathijs Tenission Van Manen, a Dutch inventor who visited her studio in 1982, built a machine allowing her to pull the threads in a fraction of the time the process had formerly required. As Zynsky has explained, glass is “amazing” because “you can do everything with it. You can pour it and cast it like metal. You can stretch it, carve it, saw it, you can stick it together … It’s such a strange and plastic thing. I think that’s what keeps drawing me back to it.”

    This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

    Signed

    "Z" shaped thread on bottom of piece

    Provenance

    From the collection of the artist.

    Credit Line

    Gift of the artist in honor of Evelyn and John Zynsky

    Copyright

    Reproduced with permission.

    Details

    Dimensions

    27.9 x 62.9 x 22.9 cm (11 x 24 3/4 x 9 in.)

    Accession Number

    2001.281

    Medium or Technique

    Filet-de-verre glass

    On View

    Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery (Gallery 258)

    Collections

    Americas, Contemporary Art

    Classifications

    Glass

    More Info

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