Mary Knight Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Mayonnaise Set, Boston or Wellesley Hills, MA, c. 1907
Arts & crafts pieces by Mary Catherine Knight are very rare and to have a mayonnaise bowl, under plate and ladle set together is exceptional. These bowls were used for various condiments and sauces.
The hand-raised bowl has an applied ring foot underneath and a flaring upper rim. The interior is decorated with 20 bunches of stunning blue enamel grapes. Each of the bunches has nine individual drops of inlaid enamel that actually rise above the surface. The bunches hang down from a horizontal row of white/ cream inlaid enamels.The base of the interior in the bowl is a stunning representation of a flower in bloom. The core is a large drop of blue enamel bordered by a ring of white enamel. Chased decoration and inlaid enamels complete the central work of art.
Wider and more flaring than Knight's typical bowl (which have more vertical sides), the decoration here is more visible and accessible than most of her bowls.
The under tray, like the bowl, is hand raised and has an applied ring foot. The border is a beautiful grapevine traveling around its edge. Once again, 14 bunches of grapes consisting of 9 blue enamels each create a stunning dish.
The ladle is gracefully curved and decorated with the same as the other pieces with a chased vine above the enamel grapes. It has a hook at the top to keep it from sliding into a bowl.
Mary Knight came from Gorham's design department and supervised the Handicraft Shop of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts which was an early outgrowth of Boston's Society for Arts and Crafts. She had several of the artisans there execute her designs. She worked alongside many of them, letting them raise the vessels and then she would apply the decoration herself. Her decoration is unique and 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 leather working tools, rather than the traditional chasing tools of the silver trade. (See The Art that is Life, Ed. Wendy Kaplan , p. 272-3).
This stunning set is all marked with Mary Knight's trademark and 'STERLING'. The ladle is also dated '1907'. The plate measures 6 inches in diameter. The set weighs a total 11.05 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition with minor losses to the enamel (but less damage than most of what we see). It is interesting to note that a similar enameled silver bowl by Mary Knight is the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and is unsigned.