The Bryant Vase

Designer: Designed by James Horton Whitehouse (1833–1902)

Manufacturer: Manufactured by Tiffany & Co. (1837–present)

Decorator: Chased by Eugene J. Soligny (1832–1901)

Designer: Medallions by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)

Date: 1875–76

Geography: Made in New York, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Silver

Dimensions: 33 1/2 x 14 x 11 5/16 in. (85.1 x 35.6 x 28.7 cm); Diam. 11 5/16 in. (28.7cm); 452 oz. 16 dwt. (14084.2 g)

Classification: Silver

Credit Line: Gift of William Cullen Bryant, 1877

Accession Number: 77.9a, b

Description

This extraordinary Grecian-form vase was commissioned by friends of the poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) on the occasion of his eightieth birthday in November 1874. The manufacturer, Tiffany & Company, held a competition for its design, which was won by James Horton Whitehouse. It is a tour-de-force of chasing, richly ornamented with symbolic motifs such as American flora and with Renaissance Revival medallions alluding to Bryant's life and work. Inlaid in gold around the neck of the vase is one of Bryant's most famous verses: "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again." The monogram of the chaser, EJS, appears beneath the shoulder drapery of the portrait medallion. The archives held by Tiffany & Company have revealed that he was a French-born craftsman by the name of Eugene J. Soligny. The vase was completed in 1876 and donated the following year by Bryant to the Metropolitan Museum, making it the first acquisition of American silver to enter the Museum's collection.

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