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Author Topic:   Tiffany cylindrical coffeepot with free-floating dragonflies
Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
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iconnumber posted 06-29-2008 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ulysses mentioned that there was interesting silver to be found in the collection of Detroit Institute of Arts. Found on their web site:

quote:


The tall cylindrical coffeepot with its free-floating dragonflies represents the Japanese influence on the avaunt-garde art of the 1870s. Edward C. Moore, Tiffany's chief designer, undoubtedly fell under this influence. In fabricating the piece, he employed the Japanese technique mokume, in which brass or silver is mixed in copper to achieve a swirled effect. The mokume waves achieve a cloud like quality, interspersed among the applied dragonflies.


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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 06-29-2008 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also found at the DIA:
quote:



Pitcher
During the late 19th century, Tiffany and Company established itself as an innovative producer of jewelry and silverware, including many refined pieces that reflect the ideals of the Aesthetic Movement. This stunning ewer was inspired by both Classical Roman sources--note the head of Bacchus applied beneath the spout and the frieze of dancing cherubs and satyrs--and by natural forms. There are only three known examples of this design, one of which was made for exhibition at the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.

quote:

Codman was chief designer of Gorham Manufacturing Company from 1891 until his retirement in 1914. In 1896 the company introduced his revolutionary new program to produce a line of handmade silver, called Martele (hand-hammered) in the Arts and Crafts tradition. Codman said that the new work has to be "modern art," and the modern art of 1900 was Art Nouveau. Thus he parted company with most of the other American makers of Arts and Crafts silverware. Pieces signed by Codman are rare, though we know he personally designed the entire Martele line. This voluptuous pitcher, with leaf and undulating lily-of the-valley motifs, is one of the most important manifestations of Art Nouveau in America.


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mdhavey

Posts: 164
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iconnumber posted 07-17-2008 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdhavey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These pieces make my head swim and my mouth water.

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 07-19-2008 07:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm struck by the pieces in this Gorham tea set from 1881.

The effect is of decorative repousse/engraved surfaces covered by reptilian eggshells, broken through in spots.

This is a case where following the link and using the 'zoom' feature at the site provides a much better view than any image that could be displayed here.

Update: Since Scott has kindly displayed an image but also has removed the link to the item at the DIA site, 80.94.1 is the accession number for anyone interested in exploring the whole tea set at a higher resolution.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 07-19-2008).]

    "Update: Since Scott has kindly displayed an image but also has removed the link..."

Not true. Just click on the image wink

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dragonflywink

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iconnumber posted 07-19-2008 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Must have missed this thread when first posted - wonderful pieces! Love the Tiffany coffeepot (big surprise).

Long ago, bought my Mom a lovely little 1885 Gorham sugar & creamer with a wavy design on it and very similar finial to the above teapot (tiny ruffle underneath rather than leaves). Then a couple of years ago, found a squatty little silverplate individual teapot (maker eludes me) with wonderful swirly ribbed spout and handle - gave it to her with thought that it coordinated nicely with the Gorham set even though they were quite different. The teapot here shows me why I liked them dispayed together.

~Cheryl

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 07-20-2008 01:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Charles Venable was the silver or decorative arts curator at the Detroit Institute of Art for a while, wasn't he? What years?

Cheryl, I had fun while looking at the Gorham teaset considering what pre-1881 Gorham or other flatware pattern would look best for the sugar spoon and/or teaspoons to use with this ensemble.

One option is 'Grecian', to echo the repeating motif in the squared band. Better would be a simple hammered-all-over pattern like 'Hammered Antique' to harmonize with the "shell" of the teapot.

Choosing to echo any of the other motifs just takes you deep into the craziness of the piece, which I take as a splendid little jokey celebration of the era's obsession with decorated surfaces.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-20-2008 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, what a deeply wacky teapot! Did it strike people at the time as humorous, or merely chic, I wonder?

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mdhavey

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iconnumber posted 07-20-2008 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mdhavey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure I would have used the word "wacky".

Upon a closer second look, wacky isn't far off the mark. I now believe it possible for something to be both wacky and extraordinarily beautiful...

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Polly

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iconnumber posted 07-20-2008 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, I think wacky and beautiful is the best combination. I prefer it to simply beautiful. Teapot = case in point.

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 07-21-2008 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott, thanks for pointing that out! The tipoff is in the blue border surrounding the image (and, of course, the cursor turning into the little hand when moved over the image, which I don't know how I avoided noticing).

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dragonflywink

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Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 07-21-2008 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ellabee - must admit that when I first read your question regarding the flatware (and staying within Gorham's production), that the earlier Byzantine or Japanese patterns came to mind - but if I were to have the luxury of owning the set and choosing coordinating pieces, would probably go with the 1880 Cluny pattern, similar motifs and an allover floral section similar to the "underlying" surface.

~Cheryl

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 09:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whoa, Cheryl, you're good! A close look at Cluny has persuaded me that it's exactly what Gorham had in mind -- those cirles with rosettes and the stylized motifs found on the squared band, plus the underlying florals.

But it would be fun to throw in an Antique Hammered or two among the teaspoons, just to plant the seed of the idea that the spoon's 'skin' might give way at any moment to reveal the Cluny beneath...

1880-85 must have been years of intense artistic experiment at Gorham. While looking up Cluny I came across Cairo, an example of the technique whose name I can't remember right now, in which another metal is added to the silver in much the same way butter is incorporated into puff pastry, by repeated folding and pressing. It produces a spotted or mottled look.

And there's Hamburg, the outer edge of bizarre.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 07-22-2008).]

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 09:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The technique is mokume, mentioned right in this post (in the DIA description of the Tiffany teapot).

There's an interesting description and some modern examples The Mokume Gane Story (click here). The effect seems to be in demand for wedding rings, where the symbolism is perfect.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ellabee, The method of putting bits of copper, brass and or gold into Cairo (originally called Curio) pieces is not known for certain, but the technique was not mokume. Somehow the bits were placed into the surface of the silver. Probably a fusing or rolling process was employed.

Yes, somebody at Gorham was definitely smoking something in the 1880's. But not all of what they were doing just sprang out of their heads. A great deal of it was their take, and their desire to embellish, on earlier weirdness.

[This message has been edited by Richard Kurtzman (edited 07-22-2008).]

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dragonflywink

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iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have done collage and assemblage artwork for well over 30 years, there is a certain level of skill required to combine diverse elements well. I find the Gorham teapot design here very beautiful and intriguing - that said, some of the 1870s-80s American silver (especially some of the silverplate), where the designers seemed to need to stuff every decorative style and motif they could think of onto a single piece, strike me as just simply dreadful and jarring to the eye.

~Cheryl

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ellabee

Posts: 306
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iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that info, Richard. 'Curio' seems a more appropriate name than 'Cairo' for the pattern in question.

I think my idea that the spotted effect of Curio/Cairo is the result of mokume comes from Venable's Century of Splendor, which has an illustration of mokume work that has the same look.

Sadly, I don't own and therefore can't check my memory with the book (though I enjoyed every day of the month I had it on interlibrary loan). Someone who does might want to; can't remember if the illustration was of flatware or hollow ware.

Also, is there an image of Curio/Cairo in the book, whether in the context of mokume or not? How about in the Gorham book? (whose author I can't even remember right now; I blame the heat.)

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 07-22-2008 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Responding to/correcting my question above: Graham Hood is the silver author I was thinking of who was curator at the DIA, but only from 1968-71.

I'd know without looking at the accession numbers that the items discussed in this thread probably weren't acquired during his tenure; he's a terrible snob in general, and about 19th century American silver in particular.

His American Silver: A History of Style, 1650-1900 is instructive. And I don't really disagree with a lot of what he says about the examples he provides of mid-late-19th century pieces -- but his selection is either purposely biased or seriously underinformed, showing the era's excesses rather than its best work.

On the other hand, he was the curator when the British 1738 loving cup eerily similar to the Campbell cup was acquired...

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ellabee

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Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 10-11-2008 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking through some old threads, I came across another candidate for spoons suitable for use with the wacky-beautiful Gorham tea set: an early sterling Two mystery early sterling patterns for which Brent and Trefid supplied images (pattern given the ID# S0422 in our hosts' Book of Silver).

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