The Magnolia Vase

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

Designer: Designed by John T. Curran (1859–1933)

Date: ca. 1893

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

Culture: American

Medium: Silver, gold, enamel, opals

Dimensions: Overall: 30 7/8 x 19 1/2 in. (78.4 x 49.5 cm); 838 oz. 11 dwt. (26081.6 g)
Foot: Diam. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)

Classification: Silver

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Winthrop Atwill, 1899

Accession Number: 99.2


The Magnolia Vase was Tiffany & Company's most prominent silver entry at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. John T. Curran (1859–1933) designed the vase, which Tiffany's valued at $10,000. Native and Latin American sources inspired the form, which was derived from Pueblo pottery, and the ornament for the handles, which relates to Toltec artifacts. Plant motifs represent various sections of the United States: pine typifies the North; magnolia, the Southeast; and cacti, the Southwest. Standing for the whole country and applied in nearly 1,000 dollars' worth of gold is the ubiquitous goldenrod. Opals set into the base represent the earth. The vase handsomely combines various late nineteenth-century trends: exoticism, naturalism, and Art Nouveau. Cornelia Ann (Mrs. Winthrop) Atwill, who purchased it at the Exposition, bequeathed it to the Museum in 1899.