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Height 1,25” (3cm) Diameter 1.5” (4cm)
Stock No. 9636
In the London International Exhibition of 1862, the British Minister in Japan, Rutherford Alcock, exhibited the large range of Japanese articles he had assembled to great acclaim from critics, designers and the public themselves. As a result, the Japanese chose to display their own objects in the next great exhibition that was held in Paris in 1867. These exhibitions were to have a major influence on design and manufacture from that point onwards and great prestige was associated with the style.
Edward C. Moore, Tiffany & Co’s chief artistic designer between 1851 and 1891 was also a prolific collector of Japanese art and his vast collection of almost 900 items were his prime source of design ideas for his work from about 1871 onwards. Tiffany’s won gold medals in both the 1878 and 1889 Paris International Expositions for which Moore received a large part of the credit. His Japanese collection of art was subsequently bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1891.
Although this rare and unusual piece appears not to have a maker’s mark, it is very much in the style of Tiffany silver holloware in the Japanese tradition, with the carefully crafted and applied decoration known as ‘appliqué’. It is also reminiscent of the highly popular ‘Chrysanthemum’ pattern, created by one of Tiffany’s designers, Charles Grosjean, in 1880, who was significantly influenced by Edward Moore following the latter’s travels to Japan. The words ‘SIlVER 100’ are inscribed to the base, along with the letter ‘M’, which could represent the artistic director at that time, – circa 1870 – 1891 – Edward Moore. Traditionally, the initial of the company’s artistic director at any one time was applied to each item.
The Chrysanthemum has always had great significance in Japan, being the symbol of autumn and having a long association with the idea of rejuvenation and longevity. Since 13th century, it has also been used as the flower of the Imperial House of Japan. The use of the chrysanthemum in silver design in America was as a result of the newly-opened and respected trade with Japan and the Victorians’ taste for the exotic. In the Aesthetic style and very much influenced by the Meiji period in Japanese culture (1868 – 1912), this piece also demonstrates the use of natural motifs such as the cricket, butterfly and dragonfly, each historically important in Japanese culture; the cricket a symbol of good fortune, vitality and prosperity, the butterfly of joy and longevity and the dragonfly a symbol of late summer or early autumn, an insect associated with the bringing of wealth and emblematic of victory and martial success.
American, circa 1870 - 1890