Mary Catherine Knight Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver & Enamel Plate, Boston, c. 1915
Of circular form with a raised edge, this wonderful silver plate features outstanding chased and enamel decoration. The wide border has a simple, applied wire band around its edge. The decoration is a beautifully chased scrolling foliate design. Varying hues of green enamel enhance the finely chased border.
The center of the plate is a stunning arts and crafts flower design. Surrounding a central, dark green enamel circle are 12 half-moon enamels of lighter shades of green. Emanating from this center are chased, unfolding petals accented with enamel decoration.
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 Handicraft Shop, having several of the artisans there execute her designs. She worked along side many of them, letting them raise the pieces and applying the decoration herself.(1)
Her work is unique. A gifted designer, Knight completed a four year design course at Philadelphia's Drexel Institute. Inspired both by medieval designs and those found on colonial silver, her decoration is at the forefront of arts and crafts design. Her chased decoration is highly unusual in that it is comprised of strikes from small leather working tools, rather than the traditional chasing tools of the silver trade.(2)
This beautiful plate measures 7 inches in diameter, weighs 6.85 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition with a nice old surface. It is marked on the back with Mary Knight's trademark along with 'STERLING'.
Marilee B. Meyer, consulting curator, Inspiring Reform: Boston Arts & Crafts Movement, (Wellesley, MA: Davis Museum and Cultural Center, 1997), p. 75.
Wendy Kaplan, The Art That is Life: The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920, (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987), p. 273.