Bold architectural lines and hammered surface help focus the design on the bird, a wood grouse, finial. The body, foot, and lid of this small covered cup are entirely hand-raised. At the rim of the cup and upper neck of the foot, a drawn wire molding has been applied for strength and decoration. Below these bands are bands of circular punch work. Finally, a thick wire band has been added to the base, underneath which Kirk signed the piece, "A · N · KIRK · ME · FECIT · 1932."
Saarinen and Kirk collaborated on several designs. The wood grouse plays a role in traditional Finnish lore and is featured on Finnish coinage and stamps. "Arthur Nevill Kirk and Eliel Saarinen: Collaborative Silver Designs" by W. Scott Braznell in Silver Magazine (March/ April 2021, pp. 26-37) discusses this collaboration and this covered cup in detail.
Arthur Nevill Kirk (1881-1958) was a significant English arts & crafts silversmith, among whose achievements included a Gold Medal at the 1925 Paris "Art Deco" Exposition of Decorative Arts. In 1926, George Booth, the Detroit arts & crafts patron, convinced Kirk to move to Detroit and teach at the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts and the Cranbrook School, where he worked with Saarinen.
Kirk became the director of the Silver Department at Cranbrook, but ultimately the department folded in 1933 because of the depression. He would continue to work and teach in the United States, becoming an essential link between the arts & crafts and the modern craft movement. Margaret Craver studied with him and was influenced by the architectural nature of his designs. (1)
Eliel and his son Eero Saarinen need little introduction as some of the premier modern architects working in the United States.
Provenance: F. Gorovic & Son, 1979 Private Collection
Literature: W. Scott Braznell, "Arthur Nevill Kirk and Eliel Saarinen: Collaborative Silver Designs" in Silver Magazine, March/ April 2021, pp. 26-37.
This important covered cup measures 5.25 inches tall and 4.125 inches in diameter. It is engraved by Kirk "A · N · KIRK · ME · FECIT · 1932" and stamped "STERLING." It weighs 7.25 troy ounces and is in very good/ excellent antique condition.
Oral history interview with Margret Craver Withers, 1983-1985, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-margret-craver-withers-12686, last accessed 12/11/2022.
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