Marie Zimmermann Massive Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Centerpiece Bowl, NYC, c. 1921
Boldly shaped, this important centerpiece bowl is a spectacular achievement. Not only is the size unusually large, but the technical difficulty of hand raising such a piece also makes it remarkable.
Asian pottery forms inspire the oval, bulbous body with flaring rim. The body gracefully curves downward to create the pedestal foot and is formed from one sheet of hand raised, heavy gauge silver with no seams. An applied wire supports the inside of the foot rim and a hammered oval plate is used to create the interior base.
Like the body, the top section is brilliantly hand raised and formed without seams - boldly flaring outward at the top in dramatic fashion. As with the foot, an applied wire supports the edge.
One of the significant characteristics of Arts & Crafts silver is to rely on simplicity and form to convey an object's beauty. Being totally hand raised, the bowl shimmers with incredible irregular hammering. It is a breathtaking centerpiece which fluidly reflects its surroundings (and was very difficult to photograph!!).
In general, female silversmiths (or shops run by them) were not common, and a piece of this magnitude is quite rare and important. This bowl is one of the largest pieces known to have come from her shop.
This centerpiece bowl was likely the one commissioned, along with a set of four candlesticks, in 1921, 'as a wedding gift for the meatpacking heiress Lolita Armour of Chicago and Santa Barbara, California.' The set is pictured and described in House and Garden in February 1922, which states, 'that Zimmermann's slender candlesticks and low bowl were designed not to obstruct the view or conversation of dinner guests.(1)
'Marie Zimmermann led the independent life of a career woman at her workshop and home at the National Arts Club, the life of a devoted daughter in an affluent family, the life of an avid sportswoman in field and stream, and a progressive social life with her friends and clients... Her weaving of ancient, traditional and modern elements made her life and art a rich tapestry. Marie Zimmermann was a remarkable artist and a remarkable woman'. (2)
This amazing centerpiece is marked underneath "MARIE ZIMMERMANN MAKER/ STERLING' along with her trademark. It measures 16.5 inches long by just over 12.5 inches wide by 8 inches high, weighs 73.80 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Northeast Auctions 1990's Francoise Woodward Hirschl & Adler Galleries 2001 Ruth Nutt Sotheby's Roy & Ruth Nutt Collection 24 January 2015, lot 317
House & Garden, February 1922, pp. 28-29. The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann, pp. 81-83
Deborah Dependahl Waters, Joseph Cunningham, Bruse Barnes, Kim Ahara, The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann, (Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2011), pp. 81-83.