?Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, 1876
This pitcher belongs to a group of pieces John Loring has identified as Edward C. Moore's earlier phase of Japanese-style designs, which were showcased at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. Tiffany & Co. described the items as a:
Group of Silver Articles, chromatically decorated by inlaying with copper, gold, and niello enamel - the first examples shown here."
A copper-inlaid pitcher from the group was purchased for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, becoming not just the first piece of Tiffany acquired by a museum, but even the first piece of American silver to be acquired by the MFA (Loring p. 62).
This first period of Moore's Japanese-inspired design was characterized by geometric forms decorated with flat inlaid patterns in copper and niello; these were partly derived from kaga zogan, flush colored metal inlays of a style used in the Kaga region on sword fittings and stirrups. By the Paris Exposition of 1878 Moore would introduce the more rounded forms, spot-hammered surfaces, and applied relief foliage and insects which compose his best-known "Japanese style" designs. Loring reproduces an archival image from Tiffany which shown this very pitcher next to one in the later style, and suggests it may have been taken under Moore's direction specifically to contrast his styles of 1876 and 1878 (p. 38).
Moore had been expermienting with Japanese influences since at least 1871, when "Audubon" pattern flatware was patented, and a "brush holder" vase of the same year, now in the Brooklyn Museum (Loring p. 28), shows the same wrigglework border as well as geometric lozenge piercing related to this pitcher. The pieces for the 1876 exhibition show a development beyond this, with the influence of Christopher Dresser, but before the influx of authentic Japanese items collected by Dresser for Tiffany and received by the firm in 1877. Thus, this pitcher showcases an important moment in the evolution of Moore's style and Tiffany's relationship with the Japanese aesthetic.
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