Martelé centerpiece on stand

MAKER:
Designer

William C. Codman ( British, 1839 - 1921 )


Manufacturer

Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )

DATE:
1920
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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 centerpiece consists of three pieces: the centerpiece itself, the stand, and the lid, which featured pierced perforations used to support the stems of flowers. Gorham craftsman expended more than 400 hours of skill labor to produce the centerpiece, utilizing a variety of techniques, including raising, casting, chasing, and piercing.

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.

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