This rare and magnificent ladle displays some of Tiffany's finest turn of the century work. It is superbly cast in the Italian Renaissance style featuring a sculptural female herm. She is partially covered by drapes and surmounts a pilaster decorated with a shell and surrounded by flowers. Winged caryatids are on each side of her. The edge of the ladle is adorned with a deep cast diamond and circle motif. Flowers and fruit adorn the ladle. Possibly the figure is meant to represent Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and the fruit is a fitting tribute to the bounty of nature.
The bowl is wonderfully lobed around the edge with two spouts for pouring. On the back of the handle is a 'button' to keep the ladle from sliding into the punch bowl. Punch ladles are the hardest type of ladle to find. Never made in great quantities, they are eagerly sought after by collectors today.
Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's master jewelry and silver designer at the turn of the century, designed this pattern in 1904. Although he designed other patterns, this is his best known and most sought after pattern. It is a tour-de-force of high relief casting and displays his mastery of historic design. The deep relief and opulent shapes reflect Farnham's holloware and jewelry designs of the period.
Interestingly, Louis Comfort Tiffany (who became vice president at Tiffany & Co. after the death of his father in 1902) and Paulding Farnham disagreed about some of Farnham's designs. LC Tiffany didn't like the historical accuracy of the nude figure, who subsequently gained drapes. Ultimately, Farnham left Tiffany's in 1908.(1)
This outstanding example of Tiffany silver is in excellent condition retaining its original 'French' or satin finish. It has never been monogrammed, measures 15 inches long and weighs 8.85 troy ounces.
- Janet Zapata, "The rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's designer extraordinaire - Part II: Silver", in The Magazine Antiques, April, 1991.