Tiffany & Company ( American, 1837 )

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General Description

As early as 1848, Tiffany & Co. advertised its "extensive importation of Japanese Goods, probably the most extensive and magnificent collection ever seen out of Japan." The New York retailer regularly sold Japanese imports by 1869, and in 1877 hosted an auction of nearly 2,000 fine and decorative objects collected in Japan for the firm by British designer Christopher Dresser. Some unsold objects entered Tiffany's design collection and served as inspiration for its Japanese style silverware.

While its Y-shaped legs are reminiscent of supports found on Chinese Ming dynasty furniture, the shape of this kettle's body is based on Japanese porcelain examples fitted with squared handles of bamboo or reed. It is probable that such an example was among the wares auctioned in 1877, considering Dresser also designed a kettle-on-stand with this body and spout shape around 1879. The figures and motifs engraved on this example of Tiffany's version are likely derived from the sketches or prints of Edo period artist Katsushika Hokusai or his contemporaries.

Drawn 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), 136-138, 339.

  • John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 58.

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