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PROPERTY OF A CONNECTICUT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

An American Silver Two-Handled "Water Nymph" Vase #385, Gorham Mfg. Co., Providence, RI, Martelé, 1900
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 134,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
47

PROPERTY OF A CONNECTICUT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

An American Silver Two-Handled "Water Nymph" Vase #385, Gorham Mfg. Co., Providence, RI, Martelé, 1900
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 134,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana: Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Porcelain, Prints and Carpets

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New York

An American Silver Two-Handled "Water Nymph" Vase #385, Gorham Mfg. Co., Providence, RI, Martelé, 1900
on a shaped square base chased with dolphins with twisted tails rising to the attenuated cylindrical body decorated with swimming female nudes, fish and aquatic plants amongst swirling tides, the shoulders with wind gusts and flying birds and supporting on both sides fully-modeled twin-tail mermaids wrapped at the waist with sprays of foliage and  with raised arms, the rim chased with fluted shells and applied with kelp
marked on base, numbered 385 and with date symbol for 1900, also engraved 2
height 24 1/2 in.
62.2cm
157oz 8dwt
4895g
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Literature

Larry Pristo, Martelé 950-1000 Fine Gorham's Art Nouveau Silver, 2002, p. 181, illus p. 101.

Katharine Morrison McClinton, Collecting American 19th Century Silver, 1968, illus. p. 147.

Catalogue Note

This aquatic vase is one of the triumphs of Robert Bain, Gorham's foremost chaser.  "In 1900 his oeuvre consisted of perhaps a dozen objects, each of them a masterpiece" (John Webster Keefe and Sam J. Hough, Magnificent Marvelous Martelé:  American Art Nouveau Silver: The Jolie and Robert Shelton Collection, New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art, 1900, p. 176).  Born in Scotland, Bain joined Gorham in 1892 and by 1900 was the highest-paid chaser, at $39 per week, seven dollars higher than his nearest rival.  Sam Hough notes that "female figures in the Mannerist tradition would appear to have been a specialty of Robert Bain" (ibid. p. 220), and this figural decoration – otherwise so rare on Martelé – distinguishes his major works, such as the dressing table now in the Dallas Museum and some of the great pieces for the St. Louis World's Fair.

After 77 hours to fashion the form, this vase required 210 hours of chasing by Bain.  The accounts show an additional 20 hours by chaser Karl Wendt, a less accomplished artist than Bain who probably readied the piece (at a lower hourly rate) before passing it to the master.  The casting required an additional 21 hours, and the piece was finished 25 July, 1900, with a net factory price of $600.

The design of the dolphin foot and decoration of water-nymphs and fish are close to the Martelé two-handled cup CLR, chased by Bain and signed W.C. Codman 1903 (sold Sotheby's, New York, 19 January 1996, lot 517).  The offered piece is probably also a Codman conception, showcasing Bain's virtuoso watery chasing.  The figures on the handles re-employ the mermaids from the Cox "Lifesaving Vase", presented in 1891 and shown by Gorham at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (illustrated Charles H. Carpenter, Jr., Gorham Silver, 1831-1981, 1982, fig. 162, p. 168).  Presumably designed by Codman, their handling here a decade later is less Beaux Arts and more Art Nouveau.

Important Americana: Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Porcelain, Prints and Carpets

|
New York