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Decorative Arts

The form of nearly contemporary Japanese ceramic teapots directly inspired this surprisingly modern-looking, intimate tea set. Silverplate, made by electroytically bonding silver particles to base metals, was an inexpensive alternative to costly silver. Because it was inexpensive, silverplate companies often produced adventurous designs that were highly responsive to the latest styles. Here the shape exemplifies the Japanese craze of the late 1870s and 1880s, and the linear, two-dimensional incised floral decoration is rendered in the so-called Eastlake, or Reform, style imported from England at the same time.

MEDIUM Silver-plate on white metal
DATES ca. 1880
DIMENSIONS 2 7/8 x 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. (7.3 x 10.8 x 8.3 cm)
MARKINGS Impressed on bottom: "JAMES W. TUFTS / BOSTON / [four-pointed star enclosing 'T'] / WARRENTED / TRIPLE PLATE / 1900."
SIGNATURE no signature
INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by Roy Zuckerberg
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Creamer (en suite with teapot and sugar bowl 1990.39.1-.3), silver-plate on white metal. Body is in the shape of truncated pyramid with square base; D-shaped, angular, faux bamboo handle and short rounded spout with rustic surface. Each face of the pyramid is densely engraved. At the top of the pyramid is a double band with interlocking chevrons in lower part, interlocking semi-palmettes in upper. At base of pyramid is another band of alternating demi-lunes and chevrons on front and rear of body and alternating half-fans on two ends. On front face of body a diagonal reserve runs from lower left to upper right with the hooped handle of a basket looped over it. Basket depends into right section over vermicullae ground; foliage in lower right corner. In upper left is a bird perched on a branch with blossom, on vermicullae ground. On rear face of body, diagonal reserve runs from lower left to upper right. Above are bamboo shoots on vermicullae ground; below is a game bird on vermicullae ground, standing in marsh with semi-fan shape at lower right. On face behind handle a diagonal reserve runs from lower left to upper right and a diagonal band with cross bandings intersects this at upper handle juncture and runs to lower right edge. Pointed oval lozenge overlaps at the intersection and is filled with stalk and blossoms. In area to upper right is a ground of overlapping semi-discs. To the left of the handle on vermicullae ground are two long-tailed birds, back to back, foliage in lower left corner. On face with spout, diagonal reserve runs from lower left to upper right. To the left is a branching vine on vermicullae ground. To the right is a flying, long-beaked bird, on vermicullae ground, with foliage. Condition: Spout slightly depressed. Plate slightly worn on bottom.
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