Hugh Wishart American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

Silver saucepans are a rare form among surviving eighteenth and early nineteenth-century American silver. Used at the dining table to hold liquids and sauces that were prepared in the kitchen, silver saucepans were more likely to suffer damage than other silver wares because they would have been placed onto heated chafing dishes to ensure their contents stayed warm. This saucepan was made by the New York silversmith Hugh Wishart, whose work embodies the neoclassical taste that held sway in fashionable American homes around the turn of the nineteenth century. His patrons included prominent members of the privileged classes including Major-General Pierre Van Cortlandt II (1762-1848) and his wife Catharine Clinton Taylor (d. 1811), daughter of New York Governor George Clinton (1739-1812). The engraved inscription indicates this pan was given to Helen Stone English (1843-1845) by her grandfather, Asaph Stone (1786-1854) on March 1, 1843. It was likely a christening gift as Helen was born on February 14 of that year. In 1839, Stone, a wealthy merchant and director of the Merchants’ Fire Insurance Co., constructed five rowhouses on Wavery Place, steps from Washington Square, which had become home to some of the city’s most affluent citizens. He filled his twenty-five-foot wide Greek Revival townhome at 107 Waverly Place with European and American paintings and sculptures, and this saucepan would have graced his dining table prior to being presented as a gift to his granddaughter. Sadly, Helen Stone English died of scarlet fever at the age of two. It is not known to whom in her family the saucepan descended. She was survived by her parents Harriet Helen Stone English (1818-1894) and George B. English (1807-1883), who had six other daughters—Elizabeth (1844-1873), Sarah (b. 1847), Jane (1847-1919), Mary (1849-1937), Amy (b.1852) and Harriet (1855-1857).

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