The Bryant Vase
To honor the poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) on his eightieth birthday, a group of his friends commissioned “a commemorative Vase of original design and choice workmanship” that would “embody . . . the lessons of [his] literary and civic career.” Its design, which combines Renaissance Revival sensibilities with those of the Aesthetic movement, consists of a Greek vase form ornamented with symbolic imagery and motifs. The fretwork of American flora covering the body of the vase, including apple branches and blossoms, represents the beauty and wholesome quality of Bryant’s poetry, while the scenes in the oval medallions allude to his life and works. From the moment the commission was announced until well after its completion, the vase was widely publicized and celebrated. After it was presented to Bryant in 1876, Tiffany & Co. displayed it at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The following year, the vase was presented to the Metropolitan Museum, making it the first acquisition of American silver to enter the Museum's collection.
#4526. The Bryant Vase
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