Martelé candelabrum (one of a pair)

MAKER:
Designer

William C. Codman ( British, 1839 - 1921 )


Chaser

Clemens Friedell ( American, 1872 - 1963 )


Manufacturer

Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )

DATE:
1905
more object details

General Description

At the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, Gorham Manufacturing Company introduced a limited production line of handwrought wares named Martelé, the French word for "hammered." In the spirit of the British Arts and Crafts movement, each Martelé design was raised, chased, and finished by hand, processes evident in conspicuous hammer marks. While Gorham utilized methods of production based on 19th-century precepts, it rejected styles of the past in favor of a fashion that evoked the new century: Art Nouveau. Chief Designer, William C. Codman, and other designers applied Art Nouveau details, such as exuberant handles and everted feet and lips with undulating edges, and decorations, such as organic ornament, to traditional forms at once progressive, yet palatable to conservative American consumers.

When new, this pair of _Martelé _candelabra cost $1,050, a staggering sum that reflected 112 troy ounces of silver and the 365 hours of skilled labor required for their production, including 247 hours of chasing completed by Clemens Friedell. The candelabra were classified as "electroliers" in Gorham records, as they originally contained electrical fittings placed on each arm and cords entwined amongst the raised and chased foliage. Such fixtures were highly prized in 1905, when electricity was in its infancy, especially in the domestic sphere.

Adapted from

  • Charles L. Venable, Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art; New York, New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994), 251-258.

  • Samuel J. Hough, DMA unpublished material.

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