Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tea Tray

John McMullin (1765–1843)
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
20 x 30 1/2 in., 174.998 Troy Ounces (50.8 x 77.5 cm, 5443 Grams)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Sansbury-Mills Fund and Frank P. Stetz Gift, 2009
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 704
The yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1798 devastated the city of Philadelphia, killing thousands and forcing many to flee what was then the nation’s capital and largest city. Among those who remained behind to tend the stricken was Dr. Philip Syng Physick, “the father of American surgery.” For his exceptional dedication and self-sacrifice, the board of managers of the City Hospital presented him with these two magnificent pieces of silver—a tea tray and a hot-water urn—fashioned in the Neoclassical style, with bright-cut paterae and floral festoons. Each piece is engraved with the dedicatory inscription “From the Board of Managers of the Marine & City Hospitals to Philip Syng Physick, M.D., this Mark of their respectful approbation of his voluntary and inestimable services as Resident Physician at the City Hospital in the Calamity of 1798.”
Inscription: engraved on center of tray within a cartouche: From the Board of Managers of the / MARINE & CITY HOSPITALS / to / PHILIP SYNG PHYSICK, M.D. / This Mark of their respectful / approbation of his voluntary/ and inestimable services as / Resident Physician at the / City Hospital in the / Calamity of 1798

Marking: inscribed on the underside: John McMullin (script )/ FECIT (shaded block)/ Philad[superscript "a" over "] 1799 (script)
Dr. Philip Syng Physick (1768-1837) of Philadelpia, married Elizabeth Emlen in 1800 Emlen Physick (c. 1817-1860), son, married Mary Frances Parmentier (d. 1915) Emlen Physick Jr. (c. 1857-1916), son Emilie Parmentier (b. 1853-1935), aunt, unmarried and shared the household of her sister Mary Frances and nephew Emlen Physick in Cape May, New Jersey; the house, designed by Frank Furness in 1879, is known as the Emlen Physick House and is now the Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts; by gift to Frances Cresse Brooks, Cape May, New Jersey Joseph Robinson Brooks (b. 1893), son, then by descent to the present owner
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