Martelé pitcher

MAKER:
Designer

William C. Codman ( British, 1839 - 1921 )


Chaser

Christopher Clissold


Manufacturer

Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )


Retailer

Spaulding & Company ( American, 1888 )

DATE:
1909
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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 Martelé pitcher was a special order for Spaulding & Co. of Chicago, a retailer in which Gorham owned a third interest. It was completed on April 14, 1909 after fifty-six hours of making completed by silversmiths in Room M3, fifty-eight hours of chasing completed by Christopher Clissold, one of Gorham's top chasers, thirty minutes of bobbing, twenty minutes of oxidizing, and forty minutes of finishing. The total cost of production was $168, which suggests that the customer paid the sum of $336.

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  • DMA unpublished material.

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