Tiffany & Co. Japonesque Sterling and Other Metals Vase (attr. Edward C. Moore, 1878 Paris Exhibition), NYC, NY, c. 1878
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Having belonged to the grandson of Edward C. Moore, president of Tiffany & Co., this American aesthetic movement masterpiece was most likely owned by Moore himself.
Almost certainly designed and executed for, and exhibited at, the 1878 Paris Exhibition Universelle, this vase features panels of mokume and other mixed metals. It was purchased at, or after the fair, by Mary Jane Morgan, their best customer at the time. (1) At her estate sale in 1886, Tiffany purchased many of the Tiffany masterpieces she owned, (2) and this would have been the most likely time for Moore to acquire the vase.
In every sense a masterpiece, this Japanese-inspired vase is one of the most exciting pieces Tiffany brought to the 1878 Paris Exhibition.
The shoulders are draped with mokume showing much bright gold. Each side is boldly decorated with an applied Polonia (3) or Kiri-Mon blossom - a traditional heraldic badge of the Japanese imperial family - made of silver, copper, yellow gold, and green gold. (4)
Centered by the mokume drapes, each side features organically shaped seed pods. Made of yellow metal and inlaid with solder #1 and stretched copper, each pod ends with copper tips. (5) Three applied undulating rings above the footed base continue the organic design, yet also are reminiscent of decoration on ancient glass in Edward C. Moore's collection. (6)
This exceptional vase is related to the larger, famous Conglomerate Vase by Tiffany & Co., created by Edward C. Moore and exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exhibition, where Moore won a Gold Medal (and Charles Tiffany became a Knight of the Legion of Honor). The Conglomerate Vase sold at Sotheby's in 1998 for $585,500. (7)
Interestingly, Moore appears to have acquired this vase and the famous Japanesque Sugar and Water Set (see Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, p. 36) for himself. These pieces speak to Moore's emotional investment in his art and Tiffany & Co.'s success at the fair.
Provenance: Estate of Mary Jane Morgan sold at American Art Galleries, March 10, 1886, lot 691. Estate of Louis DeBebian Moore sold at Sotheby Parke Bernet, Jun 10-11, 1975, lot 372. Christie's Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art and Decorative Arts, January 15-16, 1999, lot 55. Private Collection.
Literature: Illustrated in John Culme's Nineteenth-Century Silver, p. 194.
Exhibition: Likely exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exhibition Universelle.
This rare treasure is marked 'TIFFANY & Co/ 5301 MAKERS 9398/ STERLING-SILVER/ -AND-/ OTHER-METALS/ 362. It is also stamped with the 'ET' French import mark. It measures 11.5 inches high, weighs 30.45 troy ounces, and is in excellent antique condition.
Priced Catalogue Of The Art Collection Formed By The Late Mrs. Mary Jane Morgan, (New York: The American Art Galleries, 1886), p.141. Many thanks to John Ward at Sotheby's for this information.
"The Growth of Art Appreciation," The Jeweler's Circular and Horological Review, April 1886, p 71.
This is Tiffany's spelling; today, it is most commonly spelled Paulownia. See Charles Grosjean, Technical Book, p. 318, Gorham Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University.
Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art and Decorative Arts, Christie's, January 15-16, 1999, lot 55. The design drawing is published with the lot.
Medill Harvey, ed., Collecting Inspiration: Edward C. Moore at Tiffany & Co., (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2021), pp 131-33.
John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, Publishers, New York, 2001), p. 56.
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