Of hemispherical form with an applied wavy rim and resting on a pedestal foot, this exceptional piece has a spot-hammered surface mounted with exuberant applied and parcel gilt vine, foliate and floral decoration of a Japanese gourd plant. The interior is gilt and etched in a design which replicates the exterior gourd decoration. It measures 11.5 inches in diameter, 7.125 inches high, weighs 56.05 troy ounces and is monogrammed 'LWE' in the artistic style that Tiffany used in the 1880's.
In 1877/8, Tiffany & Co. was moving to a more organic style of Japanese inspired decoration. Led by their chief designer Edward C. Moore, Tiffany's silver department was leaving the lighter and more stylized Japonisme that characterized their design earlier in the decade and working towards an aesthetic with bolder, more naturalistic applied decoration mounted on a spot-hammered surface.
Many of the plants and animals found on Tiffany's silver of this period were inspired directly by English design genius Christopher Dresser. Hired by Tiffany to collect Japanese objects and ship them to the U.S., Dresser's first shipment arrived in early 18771. Japanese gourds and gourd plants take a prominence in Tiffany's designs at this time and many of these designs become bolder and more three dimensional. This is one of the finest and most three dimensional examples of this style we have seen.
Bowls this size are commonly referred to today as 'punch bowls', and many bowls of this size were originally designed for that purpose. Tiffany Archive records indicate that this specific piece was a salad bowl, a very rare object circa 1880.
'French Salad', or green salad as we know it today, was only served at the tables of the richest and most style conscious families until the early 20th century. Lettuce was not readily transportable until the development of Iceberg lettuce in 19032. Before that date, green salads could only be served by those with their own garden or those with great financial resources. (This is why salad forks from the 19th century are also so rare.) The gilt interior would have protected the bowl from the acidic nature of the salad dressing.
In the early 20th century, the salad course would become popular in the American diet as part of the healthy eating reforms promulgated by the Progressive reformers of the period. The salad course is still popular today and the demand for these very rare pieces is quite high.
Provenance: By descent in the family.
Louisa Wardner Evarts (LWE) was the youngest child of William M. Evarts. On April 3, 1883, she married Dr. Charles D. Scudder in New York City; together they had one child, Louisa Henrietta Scudder who married David P. Wheelwright on October 17, 1914. They had three children, Elizabeth, Cornelia and David P. Wheelwright, Jr.
William M. Evarts was a prominent New York Lawyer and Republican politician. He served as Attorney General of the United States from 1868-69 and defended President Andrew Johnson during his impeachment proceedings. As counsel for Rutherford B. Hayes during the presidential election of 1876, on behalf of the Republican Party, he represented Hayes's interests to the Electoral College, the United States Supreme Court and the special Electoral Commission, securing Hayes the office of President of the United States. Hayes was the first US president not elected by popular vote. Hayes selected Evarts to serve as his Secretary of State, an office Evarts held from 1877-1881.
In other notable achievements, Evarts served as counsel for the United States before the Geneva tribunal for the Alabama Claims in 1872 and served as a senator from New York from 1885-91. He is generally regarded as having been instrumental in setting up the art colony at Cornish, NH. Amongst other things, he convinced his friend Augustus St. Gaudens to relocate there.
TIFFANY & Co
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- Loring, John: Magnificent Tiffany Silver, p. 30
- Hood, William P. et al.: Tiffany Silver Flatware, p.89