At THE SILVER FUND (www.thesilverfund.com) stand at MASTERPIECE LONDON from 26 June to 3 July, owner and founder Michael James is ecstatic about an 1879 suite of Japanesque silver by Tiffany he just acquired from a private collector who has possessed the outstanding suite for more than 50 years.
He says, “This is the single most important lot to come to the market in Tiffany mixed metals since the Conglomerate vase in the late 1990s which is widely considered as the most important piece of American 19th century silver. We are thrilled to have it first here at Masterpiece London.”
“Nothing is more appealing to avid collectors than to know that artworks they covet are being shown for the first time at the events they most enjoy visiting. This silver suite has not been on the market in more than half a century. It is undoubtedly a top find at this year’s Masterpiece event, at close to $1 million. Masterpiece is the model for ‘must see’ events in the world of luxury products and art by combining great art and antiques with the most acclaimed luxury branded products in a setting that’s both accessible and fun to fair-goers.”
Janet Zapata, an author, curator and museum consultant with a particular expertise in Tiffany & Co. jewelry and silver formerly served as archivist for Tiffany & Co. She is the author of several books on 19th- and 20th-century design, including The Jewelry and Enamels of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1993); The Art of Zadora: America’s Faberge (1999); The Jeweled Garden: A Colorful History of Gems, Jewels and Nature (2006) with Suzanne Tennenbaum; Seaman Schepps: A Century of New York Jewelry Design (2004) with Amanda Vail; and The Glitter and the Gold: Fashioning America’s Jewelry (1997) with Ulysses Grant Dietz, Jenna Weissman Joselit and Kevin J. Smead.
She says, “Tiffany & Co. exhibited a selection of their Japanesque inspired silverware at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The firm won the grand prix for silverware while the head of the company, Charles L. Tiffany, was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. In 1879 Tiffany created some of the most important silver in the Japanesque taste, including this magnificent candelabra and jardinière, the surface on both hammered in imitation of Japanese metalware.
“The jardinière is a tour de force of design. The scene depicts a pond with gold and copper leaves and flowers of the sagittaria latifolia, also known as the broadleaf arrowhead, found in the muddy banks of Asia. It is a perfect habitat for the four copper and brass ridgeback turtles that crawl on the surface while another peeks its head out of the water. They are similar to a turtle painted by Hokusai on a fan, dating to 1809. The handles are simplified versions of fish dragon handles on fourteenth century Chinese porcelain. A partially gilt copper insect crawls on one handle.
“The candelabra are identical in shape but with different ornamentation on the shaft. One of the candelabra is decorated with gold and copper inlaid cloud motifs while the other has gold and copper overlapping circle designs, known as shippo. Each shaft terminates with a bordered design with pomegranates in gold and copper decorating one while gold and copper morning glories adorn the other. Copper caterpillars crawl down the shaft having just emerged from cocoons hanging from the branches.
“The candelabra and jardinière have the same monogram, “JTB,” indicating they were purchased together by the same person, probably when they were made in 1879.”
“In the 1870s, the Aesthetic movement in England and the United States witnessed a break from the prevalent historical styles towards new influences from the east, especially Japan. Instead of a revival of past periods, this source meant a new look at a culture that had been, theretofore, considered alien to the west. A few silver makers turned to this source with the most outstanding examples created by Tiffany & Co. In fact, Japan served as a major design source for Tiffany & Co. in the late 1870s. In 1877, the style evolved into a rich panoply of design, both in form and decoration; this aspect lasting until 1881 and called the ‘mature phase’ by Charles Tiffany in Tiffany Silver. Surfaces were hammered in imitation of Japanese metalware, forms adopted organic shapes or were derived from eastern vessels, and the scale of decoration was more related and better proportioned. The silver they created was innovative and acquired by a discriminating clientele including Mary Jane Morgan, wife of Charles Morgan, the shipping, railroad and iron magnate. There were over forty pieces in the Japanesque style in the sale of her estate in 1886.
“Edward C. Moore, Tiffany & Co.’s talented designer and head of the silver division, oversaw this new design direction. The first phase was characterized by engraved, etched or applied Japanesque motifs asymmetrically arranged on a shallow ground. Naturalistic images of fish, flowering branches, ferns, insects, and vignettes from everyday life were taken from Japanese design books and wood block prints including the Manga by Katsushika Hokusai.”
THE SILVER FUND is known for its cache of rare and important 20th century silver and decorative art by legendary makers including GEORG JENSEN, TIFFANY, JEAN PUIFORCAT, JEAN DESPRES and others. It is a featured exhibitor at prestigious art fairs in London, New York, Palm Beach, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Several other important silverworks are also being offered for the first time at THE SILVER FUND stand at Masterpiece. These include an important Art Deco Covered Tureen in Mexican silver and white onyx that was created by Jean E. Puiforcat during his stay in Mexico 1941-45. The polished silver soup tureen has wide scallop detailing and a white onyx finial. The same model was in Andy Warhol’s collection, selling at Sotheby’s in April 1988.
Michael James says, “Jean Puiforcat is largely viewed as the most important French Art Deco silversmith. This tureen is an amazing testament to his ability.”
Puiforcat was born to a prominent Parisian silversmith family and studied under sculptor Louis Lejeune before setting up on his own in 1922. His Art Deco works were inspired by his interest in mathematics and geometric forms. His work was shown at the 1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels in Jacques Jacques-Émile’s Pavilion. An entire pavilion was devoted to his work at The Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne of 1937.
In 1941, after being denied war time service due to his age, Puiforcat relocated to Mexico. He designed silver items in the Art Deco style in Tasco and they were made by local silversmiths and artisans, incorporating the simple aesthetics and charm of Mayan motifs. He became friendly with legendary silvermaker William Spratling and the two influenced each other greatly. Sadly, Puiforcat died on October 19, 1945, just one day after returning to Paris.
For nearly two decades THE SILVER FUND has been recognized as the world’s leading source for the finest estate Georg Jensen and other signature 20th- century silver masterworks.
Michael James says, “We have acquired a genuine treasure trove of signed 20th century silver flatware, hollowware and jewelry by Georg Jensen, Jean E. Puiforcat, William Spratling, Antonio Pineda and others. We have become the world’s largest dealer in 20th century estate silver because of the pent up demand for the most hard-to-find pieces. Young collectors have come to recognize that signed examples of outstanding 20th century design work splendidly with both modern and traditional interiors. One wonderful centerpiece bowl can set the entire tone for a dining room.”
”No one has greater access to pieces entering the market. The Silver Fund collection is always changing and always fresh, with new treasures on view each week.”
IF YOU GO
THE SILVER FUND 20TH CENTURY SILVER
at MASTERPIECE LONDON 2013
June 27 – July 3 2013
PREVIEW JUNE 26….
South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea
Chelsea Embankment, London SW3