Thomas Fletcher (American, 17871866)
Silver; H. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm)
Purchase, William Cullen Bryant Fellows Gifts, 2007 (2007.25)
Prominent among the silversmiths working in early nineteenth-century America was the Philadelphia firm of Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner. The massive presentation vases they supplied to heroes of the War of 1812 and to political and business leaders remain monuments to this nation's coming of age as a commercial, industrial, and artistic center. The firm also manufactured table and tea silver of elegant design and exceptional quality. This ewer is one of the boldest examples of their domestic wares, remarkable for its size and weight as well as for the quality of its cast, chased, and die-stamped ornament. The border of shells, leaves, and acorns that encircles the body appears on other Fletcher and Gardiner silver and is part of the ornamental vocabulary by which their work is recognized. A preliminary drawing for this ewer, a very rare survival, was purchased by the Museum in 1953, along with thirty-five other drawings related to the firm's silver.