Coffeepot

about 1858–73
Tiffany & Co. (American, active 1837–present), Designed by Edward C. Moore (1827–1891)


Object Place: New York, New York, United States

Dimensions

27.2 x 20.5 x 14.2 cm (10 11/16 x 8 1/16 x 5 9/16 in.)

Accession Number

1981.403

Medium or Technique

Silver

On View

Jan and Warren Adelson Gallery (Gallery 221)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

This vase-shaped coffeepot is composed of a spun, three-part lower body, shoulder and neck. The lower body joints are covered by two squared applied beads which enclose a frieze of flat, chased figures. Stylized anthemion ring the slender neck under the rim with more naturalistic trailing leaves chased on the vessel’s shoulder. The curved spout and handle are cast, the latter fitted with ivory separators. The domed, hinged lid is finished with a helmet finial, and the vessel sits on a beaded foot ring.


The bold, classically derived “Neo-Grec” style was born in France in the third quarter of the nineteenth century and adopted by English and American designers. It offered an alternative to the naturalistic foliage and flowers of Rococo-revival design. Although the motifs decorating this coffeepot are mainly Greek, characteristic of the era’s free use of design vocabulary, Tiffany named the pattern Etruscan and produced it from 1858 until 1873. The coffeepot is modeled in the shape of a Greek oenochoe and banded with a flat-chased and engraved frieze that incorporates horse-drawn chariots and warriors accompanied by statesmen.

The theatrical helmet finial crowns the steeply domed lid and continues the frieze’s warrior theme. Bands of anthemion and acanthus leaves, Greek-key fretwork, and classical beading continue the antique design references. Elements that distinguish the Neo-Grec from the Neoclassical style of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are the stylized, flat chasing and the dramatic contrast of light and dark, seen especially in the smooth polish of the frieze’s figures set against the matte, stippled background.

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

"MCV" entwined inside a medallion.

Markings

“TIFFANY & CO.” within an arched reserve, “774” incuse; “ENGLISH STERLING / 925-1000” within a conforming reserve; “5245” incuse; “550 Broadway” within an arched reserve; and Gothic “M” within an ellipse struck twice, flanking the whole, all struck on bottom.

Provenance

Early history unknown; museum purchase in 1981.

Credit Line

Marion E. Davis Fund