Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Prototype tea urn

Designer:
Eliel Saarinen (American (born Finland), Rantasalmi 1873–1950 Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Manufacturer:
International Silver Company, Wilcox Silver Plate Company Division (Meriden, Connecticut)
Date:
ca. 1934
Medium:
Electro-plated nickel silver, brass and Bakelite
Dimensions:
14 1/2 x 11 x 11 in. (36.8 x 27.9 x 27.9 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Saarinen Swanson and John C. Waddell Gifts, and Gift of Susan Dwight Bliss, by exchange, 1999
Accession Number:
1999.27.1a-c
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 903
An internationally renowned architect and designer, Saarinen immigrated to America in 1923 and settled in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1925. He designed this prototype in the early 1930s for use in his Michigan home. The sophisticated design relies on geometric forms, with fine proportions offsetting austere decoration. Saarinen insisted on brass plating for his personal pieces because the color appears warm, while the International Silver Company produced a limited commercial run of the design in less expensive, cooler-looking silver plate.
Marking: (underside of urn, stamped): WILCOX S.P.CO. / EPNS / INTERNATIONAL S CO / N 5873 / 15
Mr. and Mrs. Eliel Saarinen, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (until his d. 1950); Mrs. Eliel Saarinen, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (1950–d. 1968); her grandson, Ronald Saarinen Swanson, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (1968–98; to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions of Twentieth-Century Design and Architecture," June 29–November 14, 1999, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 16, 2000–January 7, extended to February 4, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 106).

Newport Beach, Calif. Orange County Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 25–August 19, 2001, unnumbered cat.

Flint, Mich. Flint Institute of Arts. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," September 14–December 16, 2001, unnumbered cat.

Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," January 11–April 7, 2002, unnumbered cat.

Charlotte, N. C. Mint Museum of Craft and Design. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," May 3–July 28, 2002, unnumbered cat.

Tulsa, Okla. Philbrook Museum of Art. "American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age," August 23–November 17, 2002, unnumbered cat.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Curator's Eye: J. Stewart Johnson, 1990–2004," March 1–November 6, 2005, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Modern Design: Selections from the Collection," May 30–October 5, 2008, no catalogue.

Albert Christ-Janer. Eliel Saarinen. Chicago, 1948, fig. 164.

R. Craig Miller in Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision 1925–1950. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1983, pp. 99–100.

J. David Farmer in Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision 1925–1950. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1983, p. 163, colorpl. 32 (Cranbrook Academy of Art version).

Richard Guy Wilson in The Machine Age in America, 1918–1941. Exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum. New York, 1986, p. 88, fig. 3.27 (Cranbrook Academy of Art version).

Gregory Wittkopp, ed. Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of Art. New York, 1995, colorpl. 61.

J. Stewart Johnson in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1998–1999." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Fall 1999), p. 63, ill.

J. Stewart Johnson. American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2000, pp. 34, 173, ill. p. 106 (color).



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