Gorham Manufacturing Company (American, 1831present)
Silver; 1974.214.26a: Overall 19 1/16 x 8 3/4 x 6 3/8 in., 2005.6 grams (48.4 x 22.2 x 16.2 cm, 64.482 troy ounces); 1974.214.26b: Overall 2 5/16 x 17 1/4 in., 2005.6 grams (5.9 x 43.8 cm, 64.482 troy ounces)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh J. Grant, 1974 (1974.214.26a,b)
One of the finest and longest lived of the American silver manufactories is the Gorham Manufacturing Company, founded in 1831 in Providence, Rhode Island. Although initially offering affordable silver to America's growing middle class, Gorham introduced in the 1890s, under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, a line of handwrought silver with a hammered finish, marketed under the name Martelé. Among the Metropolitan Museum's holdings is this superb Martelé ewer and plateau. It is very much in the Art Nouveau style, with undulating repoussé forms of waves, plants, and sensuous female figures. The plateau especially is also reminiscent of early seventeenth-century Mannerist silver. The craftsman responsible for its chasing was the Scottish-born Robert Bain (18661946), who was widely regarded as the best and highest paid chaser at Gorham. The company manufactured at least two other closely related sets, one of which was exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
Several companies distributed Gorham's products. According to the mark stamped on these objects, Spaulding & Company of Chicago retailed this ewer and plateau. The ewer is engraved in interlaced script with the monograms HJG and JMMG for Hugh J. Grant and Julia M. Murphy Grant. Hugh Grant, who served as mayor of New York from 1888 to 1892, was married in 1895 to Julia Murphy, daughter of U.S. Senator Edward Murphy of New York.