Oyster tureen with stand
Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )
This profusely sculpted tureen and accompanying base-plate represent a rare example of Gorham's work in a proto-art nouveau mode. The forceful curves and shell incrustations recall the 18th-century rococo style as well. More immediate sources for the marine-themed container are found in Japanese graphic design and metalwork. Closed to the West for over two centuries, Japan's "opening" in 1854 sparked a Japanese craze among consumers in industrialized nations. Woodblock prints inspired artists to re-think conventions about what constituted suitable subject matter and visual appeal.
Bonnie Pitman, ed., Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 200.