Mary Knight (attr.) American Arts & Crafts Silver Mayonnaise Bowl, c. 1905
This lovely example of arts & crafts sterling silver was originally used for condiments or whipped cream. Made of heavy gauge silver, it is of typical bowl form with a flared top rim and slightly domed bottom. Stunning irregular hammering to the surface makes it sparkle. Exquisite chasing and enameling enhance the interior.
Around the inside wall of the bowl is a stylized vine executed with hand chasing and cream-colored enameling. A series of 12 grape clusters executed in the same manner with various hues of blue and cream enamel hang from the vine.
The interior domed center displays stunning design and brilliant execution. A central enameled flower is surrounded by seven other enameled flowers and seven chased flowers. The use of static motion with the swirling chased stems flowing from a central design is very effective.
Mary Knight came from Gorham's design department and supervised the Handicraft Shop of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts which was an early outgrowth of Boston's Society for Arts and Crafts. She had several of the artisans there execute her designs. She worked alongside many of them, letting them raise the vessels and then she would apply the decoration herself. Her decoration is unique and current with Arts and Crafts design of her period (such as the flowers and leaves on this bowl). Her chased decoration is highly unusual in that it is comprised of strikes from small leather working tools, rather than the traditional chasing tools of the silver trade. (See The Art that is Life, Ed. Wendy Kaplan , p. 272-3).
This stunning small bowl is unmarked, however we feel the attribution to Mary Knight is correct. The bowl measures just under 4.25 inches wide by 1.75 inches high, weighs 3.95 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition with minor damage to the enamel (but less damage than many we see). It is interesting to note that the similar enameled silver bowl by Mary Knight in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is similarly unsigned.
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