Dominick & Haff Sterling Intaglio Chased Aesthetic Movement Presentation Water Pitcher, c. 1883
This outstanding pitcher features deep intaglio chased floral and insect decoration on a spot hammered background. The body, with light swirling lobes rising from the base, has two flowering branches which grow from the applied handle and meet under the spout which flows from an undulating rim. Below the spout, a beetle crawls into a crevice in the silver and another beetle emerges from another crevice. This naturalistic chased decoration is so deep and exceptional that it actually folds over itself at places.
Measuring 7.25 inches high and approximately 6 inches in diameter, this pitcher weighs 24.9 troy ounces. Marked under the base with Dominick & Haff's trademark, 'STERLING', '124' and 'BLACK, STARR & FROST', it is in excellent, crisp condition.
Under the spout, the pitcher is inscribed:
Dr. A. E. Macdonald.
from friends in the
July 10th 1883.
The Lotus Club was (and still is) a private social club in New York City with a membership which includes prominent figures in artistic and literary circles. During the 19th century, they hosted important dinners where famous luminaries would give after-dinner talks.
Dr. A. E. Macdonald was secretary of the Lotos Club for many years, and noted for witty remarks made in his after-dinner talks.(1) At the October 28, 1882 meeting, Macdonald and Oscar Wilde were the two after-dinner speakers.(2)
Professionally, Dr. Macdonald was the medical superintendent of the New York Asylum for the Insane, a position of significant prominence in the field. He was continuously in the news for the triumphs (and the scandals) of his administration. As a leading expert in the field, he gave extensive testimony at the trial of Charles Guiteau, assassin of President James Garfield.(3)
Provenance: By descent in the family.
'The Lotos Club's Success' in The New York Times, 18 December 1892, p. 17.
'A Dinner at the Lotos Club' in The New York Times, 29 October 1882, p. 9 .
'Is Guiteau Acting a Part: Dr. A. E. Macdonald's Opinion of the Assassin' in The New York Times, 28 December 1881, p. 3.