PGHT 5705 A Survey of Silver: Renaissance to Modern

PGHT 5705 A Survey of Silver: Renaissance to Modern

Fall 2019

Qianwen Deng

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Maker/Manufacture: Tiffany & Co.

Nationality: United States Object: Sterling Silver and Enamel Footed Bowl

Date: 1907-1938

Medium: Sterling Silver

Dimensions: Diameter 10 inches, approximately 18 ounces

Vendor: Doyle auction house, Lot # 329

Auction estimate price: $ 3,000 – $ 5,000


This silver footed bowl was from Doyle’s auction exhibition, in the category of American Paintings, Furniture, and Decorative Arts collection. This object was displayed on the glass shelf, which is in the center of the exhibition, with a whole bunch of other silver pieces. Almost all of the silver objects that displayed in the lockable glass shelf were not made in only pure silver material, and also not in the simple regular form. The types of silversmith’s craftsmanship among those silver objects were represented in different making techniques. Those professional techniques can be found from the fancy silver objects, such as chasing and embossing for the shape on their body of shapes, pointille (pouncework) or engraving, etching for the objects’ surfaces; different kinds of enamels that applied to the silver pieces also lavished these silver objects. Even from the ordinary viewers’ perspective, those objects, their complex, higher time-consuming production process, and placement earned them valuable quality access to the whole collection.


Back to the object itself, this selected silver object is a footed bowl from the luxurious New York jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. The title of this footed bowl is Sterling Silver and Enamel Footed Bowl, and it was dated to 1907-1938. From the specification booklet that provided by Doyle, it states “Circular, the rim and center with stylized rosettes in green on blue enamel border. Diameter 10 inches, approximately 18 ounces.” The estimated piece range for the biding was $3,000 – 5,000.[footnoteRef:1] This footed bowl is in exceptional quality and condition. This refined piece of vintage silverware has been professionally polished and is in presentation condition. There is no obvious scratch on its shinning smooth surface, only the friction mark that can be seen dimly when polishing as for the renewing process. Even when it shows the back of the lid, the embossing area that invert the silver surface does not get oxidized to a darker color. Only the degree of the enameled floral pattern gets a bit fade out, if viewers take a zoom in closer observation. [1: “Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver and Enamel Footed Bowl,” Doyle, LOT 329, 2019, ]

This silver object was sold from the auction sale held by Doyle on 10/8/2019. Tiffany & Co ‘s silver object’s final deal price is 8,125 USD. Other than the necessary information from its specification sheet, the viewers also can discover further details from the American hallmark underneath the footed bowl, which is very clearly shown in a good condition. The trademark shows the purification of the standard sterling silver, which is 925 out of 1000, and the craftsmanship is a credit to the directorship of John C. Moore II silversmith’s studio. From the footed bowl itself, it advocates the unique natural pattern that was trendy from Tiffany & Co’s design style back to the beginning of twentieth century. There was a significant style change after the death of the Queen of England, Victorian. However, the aesthetic influences from Victorianism still continue its effect for many years in the twentieth century. Under the large frame of Victorianism’s domination, there were also forming other branches of retro aesthetics such as Rococo and colonial revival, and the leadership of Art Deco when the period reached to the one third of the twentieth century.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Carpenter, Charles H. & Carpenter, Mary Grace.  (1978).  Tiffany silver.  New York :  Dodd, Mead]

Despite the coherence harmony of multiple artistic styles that coincide together more or less. A luxury brand like Tiffany & Co tends to deal with realities. They must preserve their standard of quality and style in order to keep the costumers’ level and willingness of purchase for the luxurious goods. Tiffany always maintain an ample scope that fits the aesthetic norm which is profoundly sophisticated enough for the ‘public society’ through uneducated to the knowledgeable people who enjoyed the best. From this term of ‘public society’, it also includes the economic range from low to high. Certainly, Tiffany’s design has to go beyond the relationship between money and taste.




On the other hand, for the usage to a footed silver bowl, it usually placed in the public area which will definitely delights the guests in the house to enjoy the pleasure excitement from the shinning and enameled surface. The silver low footed bowl either holds the fruits, or plain only for the display to match the elegant setting in the interior space. The blue and green enamels create two complete circles as the outlines and the center focus which enhance the value of the subtle object. It also keeps a similar color tone, blue and lake green; which also provides a calm and delicate perception, which is fabulous and suitable for luxurious decor in a domestic setting.

For a museum to include this silver object in its collection will applicable to present a great period of naturalism was followed by the abstract geometry of Art Deco.[footnoteRef:3] Also as a leading luxury brand of America, this silver object in the hollow ware collection from Tiffany & Co present the consequence of the sensation influences after the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889, the attitude of aesthetics start to modify in those two continents, in Europe and America. Last but not the least, awaken people’s attention to the quality of life after the war. [3: Phillips, Clare. 2006. Bejewelled By Tiffany. New Haven: Yale University Press.]


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