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Henry Petzal Modern Sterling Silver Bowl, Shrewsbury, New Jersey, 1968

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Silver by Henry Petzal is quite rare as he made all the pieces himself by hand and limited each design to a maximum of 8. This means that each of his objects were either one-of-a-kind or at the most, eight. An identical example of this bowl is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The bowl is decorated with three lightly repousséd abstracted floral devices, the center part of each is finished with a stippled design. Underneath an applied band around the rim, the background features a brushed surface, giving the composition textured depth. The brushed surface is a decorative scheme Petzal would use successfully in the early 1970's.

Henry Petzal was a businessman who 'rose through the ranks to become a textile executive. In 1963, age fifty-seven... he resigned and committed his life to a new career (silversmith)'.(1) Petzal studied at the Craft Students League in New York City under the instruction of silversmiths Rudi Schumacher and William Seitz.(2)

Fifteen examples of Petzal's work are represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 'In 1979, the Museum exhibited my work in a case right across the aisle from the Paul Revere bowl... At the opening reception Jonathan Fairbanks (Curator of American Decorative Arts) called these pieces "a major acquisition for the Museum"'.(3) This bowl was chosen as the MFA's object of the month when acquired in 1979.(4)

This rare and stunning bowl is marked underneath with 'HENRY PETZAL', 'HANDWROUGHT' and 'STERLING'. It measures 5.875 inches wide by 3.75 inches high, weighs 15.2 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.

Provenance: Private Collection

Literature: Robert M Doty, Henry Petzal/ Silversmith, p. 39

Exhibition: Henry Petzal, Currier Gallery of Art, 1987

  1. Robert M. Doty, Henry Petzal/ Silversmith, (Manchester: The Currier Gallery of Art, 1987), p. 4.
  2. Ibid, p. 7.
  3. Ibid, p. 12.
  4. Ibid, p. 12.