Martelé vase (one of a pair)


William C. Codman ( British, 1839 - 1921 )


Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )

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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.

This pair of Martelé vases (1991.33.1 and 1991.33.2)was probably produced in preparation for the 1900 Paris World's Fair, though ultimately not exhibited. Nevertheless, it is an exceptional example of _Martelé _with a production cost of $300 and a retail price of $600 per vase, an enormous sum in 1900.

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.

  • DMA unpublished material.

  • Samuel J. Hough, DMA unpublished material.

Web Resources

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