Erik Magnussen for Gorham Art Deco Large Covered Centerpiece, Providence, RI, 1925
An exceptional example of art deco silver by one of the most famous designers of the style, this is a rare centerpiece with its original removable pierced cover. The use of plain surfaces and sections with scored lines give the piece a stylish design with subtle movement.
The base and stem are made in four sections. The lowermost piece is a flaring base mounted to a small dome. This connects to the bulbous stem which is connected with a flaring ring to the bowl. Sixteen vertical lines travel downward and shape themselves proportionately to the various planes of the surfaces. The various shapes of the surface also reflect magnificently the surrounding areas. It is brilliantly designed and executed as is the rest of the piece.
As with the foot, 16 scored lines on the bowl radiate upwards from the column. The interior is adorned with the raised lines emanating from a central circle. One of the outside panels is engraved with a lovely 'S' between the dates '1903' and 1928 - obviously a very nice 25th anniversary present.
The cover is a stunning dome also made from multiple parts. The sixteen triple-scored lines radiate outwards from the dome further embellished with semi-circle devices to their sides, striking art deco ornamentation. This cover has a secondary section underneath which secures it onto the bowl. This also acts to better support flower arrangements. To be consistent and complete the design, the bold finial is also scored with 16 lines.
Radiating scored lines, geometric shapes and naturalistic decoration became the hallmark of Magnussen designs at Gorham. After the Paris 'Art Deco' exhibition of 1925, Gorham sought to develop a line of silver in the 'moderne' style popular in Europe and they found an accomplished Danish silversmith, Erik Magnussen, to do so. He was given his own workforce and great leeway in designing objects.
Gorham's records indicate that the C/YA centerpiece is the only one made, although it may have been the prototype for second similar centerpiece with a different code. Interestingly, it appears that Magnussen himself chased this piece. (His chasing was charged at $1.80 an hour whereas a typical chaser at that time earned $0.80 an hour - times have changed.)
This centerpiece was the vanguard of modern design in the United States. The American public did not warm to modern design until years later and very few early modern items like this were ever made at that time. Such items are exceedingly rare - not only did they not sell well, but many that made but did not sell were melted by Gorham during the depression.
This remarkable sterling silver centerpiece/ floral arranger is marked underneath with Gorham's trademark and 'GORHAM/ STERLING/C/YA' and with the date mark of 1925. This is one of the first pieces of documented Magnussen silver ever made by Gorham.
This rare art deco silver centerpiece measures just over 11.50 inches in diameter by 11 inches to the top of the finial. It weighs 58.65 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.
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