Joel F. Hewes Sterling Silver Covered Compote, Titusville, PA, c. 1927, probably exhibited at the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts 1927 Tricennial Exhibition
This beautiful example of hand wrought arts & crafts silver is extremely rare and interesting. A very early example of American silver based on modern Scandinavian designs, this is one of the finest pieces ever crafted by Joel Hewes. The spreading pedestal foot rests on five organic ball supports on a silver ring. The stem rises like a floral bud with a flower in bloom with a complex set of silver balls attached. The finial of the domed lid continues the organic, ball motif.
Using a complex mix of varied hammered and flat surfaces, Hewes develops a sense of visual depth in the piece. By varying the planished details, he accentuates the form of the compote.
Hewes's work is rarely seen on the market today. He was a member of the society of Arts and Crafts in Boston beginning in 1907 and was elevated to the rank of 'Craftsman' in 1928, possibly because of this piece. Usually one sees a small or a medium sized bowl. We have never seen and cannot find another object by him that comes close to approaching the complexity and ambition of this piece. It is a very important, and almost certainly unique, example of his oeuvre.
This compote clearly dates to the late 1920's. The foot is nearly identical to ones by Erik Magnussen on a series of compotes, or candy dishes, he designed for Gorham c. 1926.(1) Compared to the Magnussen design, Hewes's compote is much bolder. Further, the varied surfaces on the Hewes piece create a visual complexity not found in Magnussen's designs.
The Boston Society of Arts & Crafts' Catalog to their 1927 Tricennial Exposition held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from March 1 - 20, 1927 lists three objects by Hewes, including item number 98, a 'Covered Compote'. Unfortunately, we can find no photographs of this item at the exhibit.
This exceptional compote is marked underneath 'JOEL F. HEWES/ HANDMADE/ STERLING'. Underneath the lid, it is monogrammed 'M.C' in a block style. It measures 9 inches high, weighs 27.5 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.
Charles Venable; Silver in America 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor (New York: Abrams, 1995), pp. 282-83.