Gerardus Boyce (1795 to 1797–1880)
Object Place: New York, New York, United States
31.7 x 25 x 16.5 cm (12 1/2 x 9 13/16 x 6 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Stamped floral bands decorate the upper and lower rims and dress the joints between the raised pear-shaped body, the domed, stepped foot and the low-cut neck. A long and generous spout balances the densely textured scrolled handle with cabbage rose thumbpiece. The engraved inscription is wreathed by a repoussé chased grapevine with neatly articulated fruit and leaves.
Gen. Francisco de Paula Santander of Colombia offered this classically proportioned pitcher to Capt. Henry Beekman of the American packet brig Montilla in thanks for a safe voyage from New York to Colombia. General Santander had been living in exile in New York from 1828 to 1832, when he was recalled to Colombia to become president after Simon Bolivar’s death. Santander was a law student in his native land when he joined Bolivar’s 1813 campaign to liberate New Granada (modern-day Colombia), Venezuela, and Ecuador. His success in preparing an advance base for Bolivar in New Granada earned him a place as vice president in Bolivar’s new regime, with the understanding that he would rule the newly formed Gran Granada while Bolivar fought to hold together the union. However, differing political ideologies divided the two leaders, and Santander subsequently led the people’s opposition to Bolivar’s continuing foreign campaigns to enlarge his domain. In 1828 Bolivar declared himself dictator of New Granada; following an assassination attempt, he jailed Santander for complicity but later allowed him to go into exile.
Presumably made about the time of Santander’s departure from New York, this pitcher was intended for domestic use. Its inscription is discreetly placed within a broad wreath of leaves and fruit, below the spout. The vessel’s surface is a study in light and dark. The dense floral pattern of the decorative bands and textured handle create a dramatic contrast to the pitcher’s polished, curvilinear form.
Gerardus Boyce worked from about 1820 to 1857 at 101 Spring Street in New York City. Elisha Jones joined Boyce from 1825 to 1830, and the firm was then known as Boyce & Jones. In 1835 Boyce moved to 110 Greene Street, where he remained for more than twenty years as the head of a small shop of five employees in 1850.
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.
"Offered to Captain / Beekman / by / General Santander / from Colombia" engraved in upper and lower case script with serifs, centered on the body under the spout.
Stamped "G. BOYCE" and "N (pellet)YORK" both within rectangles on the bottom of the body above and below the center point.
Ada Mark * F4361
The history of the pitcher's ownership subsequent to Captain Beekman's is unknown. Museum purchase.
Edwin E. Jack Fund