Erik Magnussen for Gorham Important Pair of Art Deco Sterling Silver Tazze, Providence, c. 1926
These large tazze are rare examples of Erik Magnussen's work. The unusual forms coupled with Magnussen's unique vision of modern silver is beautifully executed. The wide shallow bowls have 14 ridges emanating from a central circle.
Made from multiple parts, the stems of the pedestals are most unusual. Scored with 16 incised lines, the spreading pedestal foot has a narrower section above shaped like a funnel. Above this section is a large, circular disc, also with 16 incised lines. The various elements and curved surfaces display wonderful reflections.
Erik Magnussen was an important Danish silversmith hired by Gorham from 1925 to 1929 to develop silver in the 'modern' style. During this brief period he designed very creative and beautiful silver. Most Magnussen designed pieces were made in very limited quantities - from one to a couple dozen. It appears from Gorham's records that 12 of these compotes were made. (13 if you include the prototype.)
To introduce Magnussen's work to the United States in 1926, Gorham held concurrent exhibitions of his pieces at their flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue and at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts' 10th annual American Industrial Art Exhibition of 1926-27. Due to the success of the Art Deco exhibition in Paris, this important exhibition at the Met was the first to display modern American objects not based on historical designs.
Gorham's exhibition at their store was also an important introduction for the public to Magnussen and his modern silver. Gorham felt the introduction so important that they arranged an in store demonstration by Magnussen during the exhibit. This design appears to have been part of the store's exhibit.
In the image below, this model compote can be seen lower left by the sign saying:
ERIK MAGNUSSEN can now be seen on the main floor creating fine silverware
This rare image of a Gorham store window is courtesy of the Gorham Company Archives at the John Hay Library at Brown University
It is extremely rare to find examples of the very earliest American art deco silver such as these. (We had a nut dish from this period years ago, see here.)
When Gorham was marketing this line of silver, the American market was not ready for it, preferring conservative colonial styled silver. Hence Gorham had a great deal of trouble selling Magnussen forward looking silver.
As the great depression took hold, Gorham reduced retail prices and still did not sell much of Magnussen's silver. It is generally believed that much of Magnussen's silver was eventually destroyed by Gorham. It is for these reasons that today American art deco silver is extremely rare, very much appreciated and highly sought after by collectors and museums. (See Gorham Silver by Charles Carpenter.)
These rare and important art deco silver tazze are marked with Gorham's trademark, 'GORHAM', 'STERLING', the sample code 'EGL' and Magnussen's trademark. They measure 10.25 inches in diameter and 5.5 inches high, weigh a combined 47.85 troy ounces and are in excellent antique condition.