Thomas Fletcher (attributed) American Classical Silver Water Pitcher retailed by Baldwin Gardiner, New York, c. 1835-40
This outstanding example of American classical silver is by one of the foremost silversmiths and retailed by one of the foremost entrepreneurial 'decorators' of their time. Beautifully proportioned, this vase form water pitcher has applied die-rolled bands at the foot, neck and rim. The bands are of repeating leaves and buds on stems. The bold spout flares outward and pours beautifully. The classical motifs continue with the well cast and chased acanthus decoration on the handle. This is an extremely fine and elegant example of American classical silver. On the front, this striking pitcher is monogrammed 'I & TU' in a lovely script.
Thomas Fletcher, in partnership with Sidney Gardiner and by himself after 1827, ran the most important silversmithey of the young republic, receiving commissions to make the most significant presentation silver of the day, including: The Dewitt Clinton Urns (Erie Canal, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), The George Armistead Punch Service (Commander at Fort McHenry, now at the Smithsonian), The Isaac Hull Urn (Commander of the Constitution, now in the Naval Historical Foundation's collection), etc.
Some of the best and most famous American silver in permanent museum collections was made by Thomas Fletcher or Fletcher & Gardiner. As noted by Stuart P. Feld in Boston in the Age of Neo-Classicism 1810-1840: "No silversmith working in America during the late Federal period exceeded either the ambition or the quality of the Philadelphia partnership of Thomas Fletcher (1787-1846) and Sidney Gardiner (1785-1827), and Thomas Fletcher alone after Gardiner's early death." (p. 77)
This rare pitcher is marked underneath 'B. Gardiner/ New York'. Baldwin Gardiner was the younger brother of Thomas Fletcher's business partner Sidney Gardiner. In 1815, Thomas Fletcher set Baldwin Gardiner and another relative Lewis Veron up in a shop in Philadelphia. When the Gardiner and Veron partnership ended, Baldwin Gardiner moved to New York City in 1926.(1)
The original design drawing for this water pitcher is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is illustrated in Silversmiths to the Nation, page 100. (2)
This wonderful pitcher measures 10.25 inches high, weighs 33.8 troy ounces and is marked and monogrammed as noted above. It is in excellent antique condition.
Donald L. Fennimore and Ann K. Wagner, Silversmiths to the Nation: Thomas Fletcher & Sidney Gardiner: 1808-1842, (Wilmington: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc, 2007), pp. 44-45.