"Aztec" tête-à-tête tongs


Tiffany & Company ( American, 1837 )

Attributed to

John T. Curran ( American, 1859 - 1933 )

designed c. 1897
more object details

General Description

These tongs, commissioned by publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1897, is part of a highly unusual Tiffany and Company coffee service that is covered with skulls, severed hands, and serpents. The form of the coffeepot (2007.64.1) is adapted from a sculpture of the "serpent-skirted" Aztec goddess Coatlique, discovered in Mexico City in 1790. Around the turn of the 20th century, Tiffany produced a series of silver objects with Native American themes; those with Aztec decoration were rare, probably owing to the limited appreciation of macabre motifs such as those seen on this service.

Adapted from

Kevin W. Tucker, DMA Label copy, 2008.

Web Resources

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Read more about Nineteenth-Century American Silver.