George E. Germer: "The Supper at Emmaus" Silver Gilt Ciborium, Mason, NH, c. 1922, exhibited at Tricennial Exhibition of The Society of Arts & Crafts, 1927
One of the masterpieces of American Arts & Crafts silversmithing is George E. Germer's hand wrought sterling ciborium, The Supper at Emmaus. Germer was the leading maker of ecclesiastical silver of the American Arts & Crafts Movement; this ciborium is one of his most important pieces.
Of rectangular form with canted corners and a conforming sloped removable lid, it is decorated with deeply chased scenes including the Supper at Emmaus on the front, Christ praying in the Garden at Gethsemane on one side and Christ carrying the cross on the other. The back is unadorned.
Each of the four corners features one of the evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - chased in high relief with 3-dimensional undercutting. The lid is topped with a cross with an inset semi-precious stone that rotates in place. On the front of the cover is chased the "ihs" Christogram. Around the base is chased:
TAKE EAT THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS GIVEN FOR YOU DO THIS IN REMEM- BRANCE OF ME
George Earnest Germer designed and executed this piece to be his very finest work. He made relatively few pieces during his career. Most are institutionally owned, and his work rarely appears on the market.
Germer immigrated from Germany in 1893 as a highly skilled silversmith and chaser. He worked for Tiffany as a chaser from 1893 until he left for Gorham about 1903. In Providence, he chased Martelé masterpieces including an alms dish exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
In 1912, he left Gorham to set up shop in Boston where he began his independent career. About 1917, he moved to Mason, New Hampshire, where he created masterpieces in his old farmhouse until his death in 1936. In 1927 - the same year he exhibited this ciborium at their Tricennial Exhibition - he was awarded the title of "medalist," the highest honor bestowed by the Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston.
During his career, Germer only produced two or three pieces a year. Typically, they were commissioned by institutions and designed by architects. These pieces rarely come on the market and examples that are both designed and executed by him are even rarer.
For a fuller biography of Germer, see here.
We are fortunate to be able to offer this remarkable ciborium from St John's Memorial Chapel at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Provenance: Estate of the Artist Florence S. Dustin, Cambridge, Massachusetts Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Episcopal Divinity School was formerly the Episcopal Theological School founded in 1867 in Cambridge; it changed its name in 1974 when it combined with the Philadelphia Divinity School which was founded in 1857. In 2018, the school merged with the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and the campus was acquired by Leslie University. For more history of the school, see here.
Exhibition of American Handicrafts,1922-23, participating museums: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia Museum Rhode Island School of Design, Providence Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh Museum of Art, Cleveland Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Tricennial Exhibition of The Society of Arts & Crafts,1927: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Exhibition of Ecclesiastical Art, 1929: Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston
Exhibition of American Handicrafts: Assembled and Circulated by The American Federation of Arts 1922-23, (Washington, D.C.: Byron S. Adams, 1922), catalog No. 00, p. 7.
Tricennial Exhibition of The Society of Arts & Crafts, (Boston: Merrymount Press, 1927), catalog No. 5, p. 1.
"Exhibition Here of Ecclesiastical Art" in the Boston Globe, January 26, 1929, p. 13.
"An Assemblage of Ecclesiastical Objects" in the Boston Herald, June 23, 1929, p. 73.
Henry P. Macomber, "The Silversmiths of New England" in The American Magazine of Art, October 1932, Vol. 25, No. 4, p. 214.
This unique ciborium measures 7.5 inches long, 5 inches deep and 6.125 inches high. It weighs 40.25 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.