Skip Navigation

Napkin Clip, 1 of 2

Decorative Arts

On View: American Identities: A New Look, Expanding Horizons, 5th Floor
When John W. Mackay, a poor Irish immigrant, struck it rich prospecting for silver in Nevada, he sent Tiffany & Company a half ton of silver to fashion an expansive 1,250-piece dinner service. These napkin clips, made of gold-plated silver with beautiful enamel decoration inspired by Near Eastern textiles, were part of the service. When one pinches the wings of the butterflies upward, the lower body separates and clasps the napkin. The upper body of each insect bears the Tiffany-invented Mackay coat-of-arms and the motto "Et dieu mon appui" (God is my support).
MEDIUM Gilt silver and enamel
DATES 1878-1879
DIMENSIONS 2 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 3/4 in. (6.4 x 8.3 x 1.9 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS On inside of one underside of body: STERLING SILVER. On inside of other underside of body: TIFFANY & Co (in arch) /5627 M 6557 (?). On underside of one wing near body: ET in small rectangle (French import mark). On top side of one wing: small indecipherable mark.
SIGNATURE no signature
INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Expanding Horizons, 5th Floor
CREDIT LINE Gift of the American Art Council
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact (charges apply).

For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
CAPTION Charles T. Grosjean (died 1888). Napkin Clip, 1 of 2, 1878-1879. Gilt silver and enamel, 2 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 3/4 in. (6.4 x 8.3 x 1.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the American Art Council, 1991.101.1. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE group, 1991.101.1_1991.101.2_transp342.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Napkin clip, gilt silver and enamel, in the form of a butterfly. Attached to the thorax are two spring-hinged wings which, when compressed, open the legs and underbelly of the thorax along a wavy line and spring back to clasp napkin. On thorax, front, is stylized head, the lower part of which, at neck, is formed by a crown, which sits atop the Mackey coat of arms (three horizontal dots above two horizontal bars) in a shield. Below and to the sides of the shield is a banner with the motto: ET DIEU MON APPUI. From the banner depend tendril-like elements that form the interlocking monogram MLM (for Marie Louise Mackey). On under side of the thorax there is a cast-incised spiral at the head and three pairs of legs arranged along open seam. On both obverse and reverse of each wing is an intricate, inlaid, polychrome enamel pattern in which the color fields are separated by cloisonné wires. In the upper part of each wing surface is a vaguely pear-shaped section of pale yellow ground. At the base is a stylized clover blossom with pale yellow center and blue dots. This blossom is surrounded by three serrated, interwoven, spiraling leaf forms in blue with white star dots; along lower, outer edge is half of a stylized blossom in dark red. The ground graduates from a dark purple at inner area to speckled amber at outer area of wing. Lower section of each wing surface is a leaf shaped section of enamel partially outlined by serrated, pale yellow border. At base is a stylized white blossom with red center. This blossom is surrounded by three serrated interwoven leaf forms in blue with white dots; a partial stylized blossom in red peeks out from behind one blue leaf; there is a small blue dot at top of wing. The ground graduates from a dark purple at inner area to a speckled amber at outer area of wing. En suite with 1991.101.2. CONDITION: Gilt slightly worn; otherwise excellent.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.
Napkin Clip, 1 of 2