Mary Knight/ Karl Leinonen Sterling Fruit or Punch Bowl with Undertray, Boston, c. 1907
Of demi-spherical form, this wonderful bowl features outstanding chased decoration around the bowl and on the spreading stepped foot. A repeating pattern of scrolling foliate cartouches centering a flower with vines and berries alternate with flowing vertical floral motifs. The undertray is tooled with decoration matching the bowl. This ambitious decorative scheme was clearly designed and executed by Mary Knight.
The Handicraft Shop of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, was an early outgrowth of Boston's Society for Arts and Crafts. Mary Knight came from Gorham's design department and supervised the shop, having several of the artisans there execute her designs. She worked alongside many of them, letting them raise the vessels and applying the decoration herself.
Her work is unique. Partly inspired by designs found on colonial silver (the scrolling foliage cartouches here resemble those of heraldic devices on colonial silver), her decoration is always 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 leatherworking tools, rather than the traditional chasing tools of the silver trade. (See The Art that is Life, Ed. Wendy Kaplan, p. 272-3)
In 1906, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts held the first exhibition of American colonial silver. This seminal exhibition had a major influence on the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston. The form of this bowl bears a striking resemblance to a c. 1753 bowl by Peter Van Dyck of New York in the exhibition (object number 321) and now in the Garvan Collection at Yale. Knight's decoration is somewhat similar but updated. (We have had another Leinonen executed piece that was a direct copy of a cann by Edward Winslow that was in the exhibition, no. 331.)
The bowl and plate were raised by Karl Leinonen, a Finnish immigrant silversmith, who ultimately would receive the Society of Arts and Crafts highest award for his craft, the designation of 'Medalist', one of only eight silversmiths to be so honored.
The decoration, possibly the entire bowl and plate, was indisputably designed and decorated by Knight. Knight often worked with others to raise her designs that she then decorated; she decorated pieces raised by herself. The Handicraft Shop espoused a cooperative spirit, and this set is certainly a cooperative effort.
A similar bowl was illustrated in 'The Society of Arts and Crafts of Boston and its Master Silversmiths' by Rosalie Berberian in the Arts & Crafts Quarterly Magazine, Vol. IV, No. 1 (Pg. 17, fig. 2). We subsequently purchased that bowl and sold it to the Dallas Museum of Art, see here. This is the only example we know with an underplate.
The beautiful sterling bowl measures 9 inches in diameter by just over 4.5 inches high and weighs 28.90 troy ounces and is in very good condition with some interior scratching from use. The under-plate measures 10.25 in diameter by 0.75 inches high and weighs 17.95 troy ounces and is in very good condition, also with some scratches from use. Both pieces are marked with the Handicraft shop trademark, "STERLING" and with Leinonen's "L". The undertray is also stamped with the date '1907.' Underneath, the bowl is hand-engraved 'E.F.H./ 1907, and the center of the tray has a more elaborate 'EFH' monogram, as it would be more visible.
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