Erik Magnussen for Gorham Sterling Silver Covered Centerpiece Bowl, Providence, RI, 1926
This covered bowl is a rare and exceptional example of art deco design by one of the most famous American designers of the style. The use of plain surfaces and sections with scored lines give the piece a stylish design. Six scored lines create the six panels of the bowl attached to a simple, stepped ring base.
The cover is just brilliant design. The central, small knob and the three handles are modernistic ball and scroll design. During this period, such designs used by various silversmiths were used to symbolize seeds of flowers. As with its bowl, the cover is scored with six lines which connect in a curve at their base.
The cover, when inverted, rests on its feet and knob and becomes a second bowl. One sees from the inside the art deco flower created from the scored lines.
Radiating scored lines, geometric shapes and naturalistic decoration became the hallmark of Magnussen designs at Gorham. After the Paris 'Art Deco' exhibition of 1925, Gorham sought to develop a line of silver in the 'moderne' style popular in Europe and they found an accomplished Danish silversmith, Erik Magnussen, to do so. He was given his own workforce and great leeway in designing objects.
His aesthetically forward looking pieces never sold well as the American public mainly wanted more conservative colonial styled silver. Very few of these pieces were ever made and no one knows how many were ultimately melted by Gorham. Consequently, these examples of American art deco silver are very rare and highly sought after today.
Gorham's records indicate that only 13 of these covered bowls were ever made. (1)
This rare sterling silver double bowl centerpiece is marked underneath with Erik Magnussen's 'EM.' mark, Gorham's trademark and 'GORHAM/ STERLING/ EGK'. It measures 8.75 inches in diameter by 5.5 inches to the top of the finial, weighs 25.85 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.
C/YD Costing slip, Gorham Company Archives, Brown University Library