Tiffany and Co: The Westinghouse Antique Sterling Silver Pitcher, NYC, NY, c. 1880
This boldly designed pitcher features a stunning honeycomb-hammered body with a smooth, matte finish. All the decorative elements, including the naturalistic, sweeping grasses, and lotus flowers of various stages of bloom, are all applied and engraved. Covered in gilding, this flora makes an even more dramatic aesthetic statement against the silver.
Beautifully engraved on one side are the initials 'MEW,' and the underside is similarly engraved 'M.E.W. Westinghouse.'
Below is a drawing of a lotus plant by Charles Grosjean, who likely designed this pitcher.
Charles Grosjean drawing of a Lotus plant from the Tiffany Technical Manual in the Gorham Archives. Photo courtesy John Hay Library, Brown University.
Marguerite Erskine Walker Westinghouse was married to George Westinghouse, the famous inventor who purchased the patents for alternating current electric motors from Nicola Tesla. The rest is history. For more information, see American Dynamo: The Life of George Westinghouse.
The Westinghouses were some of Tiffany's best clients, and this pitcher is similar to a tea set they owned with the same monogram and initials. Sold at Sotheby's in 2006, the tea service brought $380,000.00 (we believe a record for an American tea set). Their artistically engraved name can also be found on their beautiful Tiffany inkwell, now in the Carnegie Museum of Art collection. That inkwell and this ewer descended in the same branch of the family, the inkwell was acquired by the Carnegie at the same time the pitcher was acquired by the collector.
Provenance: George and Marguerite Erskine Walker Westinghouse. By descent in the family. Private Collection.
This stunning pitcher is marked underneath 'TIFFANY & Co/ 5526 MAKERS 3454/ STERLING-SILVER/ 925-1000/ M/ 1673. It measures 7.25 inches across the handle and spout by 8 inches tall, weighs 32.10 troy ounces and is in excellent condition along with the original gilt interior.
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