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Title

: The Baldwin Bequest: Recent Acquisitions in Silver

Author

D. McFadden

Date

1976

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The collections of English, Continental, and American silver at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts have expanded in scope and number over the past decade, not only through purchases made possible by generous gifts of funds, but also by numerous beneficent gifts of objects and collections. Among the most impressive additions is the recent bequest by Mr. Philip S. Baldwin of eighty-one examples of domestic silver. The Baldwin bequest substantially increases the quality and interest of the existing collection: some of the objects collected by Mr. Baldwin expand the stylistic and chronological sequences of the entire Minneapolis collection, others create entirely new geographic and stylistic areas upon which the Institute will build in the future. The bequest includes a select group of English domestic pieces ranging in date from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, as well as several rare French and Italian works, and Russian, Polish, Austrian, and American examples. It is with justifiable pride and gratitude that the Baldwin collection has been accepted by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.This comprehensive collection was formed entirely by one man, Philip S. Baldwin, whose connoisseurship brought together a coherent and beautiful group of objects. Mr. Baldwin, although a citizen of the United States, lived most of his life in Florence, Italy. Born in 1887, he was among the first volunteers for active service in World War I, during which time he was stationed in Paris with the Air Force. After the war, he served with the Hoover Relief Administration in Poland and in Russia. Mr. Baldwin married Alexandra Bobrinsky, whom he had met in Russia, before settling in Florence. His collection of silver reflects the many activities of his life, in that most of the countries with which he had become familiar are represented in the selection of objects. When Mr. Baldwin died in 1973, the bequest was formally accepted by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and negotiations began to move the collection from Italy to the United States.Among the many rare and unusual examples of Continental silver collected by Mr. Baldwin is a superb pair of candlesticks by the Parisian master-silversmith Eloi Guérin1 (figure 1). From stepped and molded bases rise cast baluster shafts of triangular section, ornamented with scrolls, shells, and articulated moldings; the coherent architectural character of the design is typical of conservative French taste at midcentury. Eloi Guérin was apprenticed to François Cruchet on May 23, 1719,2 and entered his mark in 1727. Guérin appears to have been a prolific silversmith. Examples of his work remain today in several important public and private collections,3 despite the general scarcity of French silver of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the numerous wars, both foreign and civil, which engaged France during that time resulted in the melting down of many important family collections of silver. The Gubrin candlesticks in the Baldwin collection are complemented by several other French pieces not illustrated here, including a small Tray of 1783 by Jacques-Antoine-Félix Imberry, a Parisian Chocolate Pot of 1787, a Coffeepot dating from around 1800 and three delightful Wine Tasters (figure 2) of the mid-eighteenth century, one of which is the work of Noel-César Boutheroue-Desmarais.4Italian silver in the Baldwin collection includes objects from Rome, Turin, Venice, and Genoa; nearly all of these works are of eighteenth-century date. Two midcentury objects of particular interest are a pair of Venetian Candlesticks (figure 3) and a Footed Salver from Turin (figure 4). The candlesticks5 rest upon undulating bases, the baluster shafts formed of clustered ribs which swell gracefully at the shoulder. The Turinese salver,6 of disciplined and conservative form, is ornamented with a delicately engraved shell rocaille border, a favorite motif in rococo-inspired silver throughout Europe. The Italian silver in the collection also includes a Venetian Coffeepot of 1760 and an Oil and Vinegar Frame produced in Rome around 1800, thus contributing essential domestic forms to the collections of Italian ecclesiastical and commissioned silver at the Institute.The largest group of objects in the Baldwin bequest is that which surveys the art of the silversmith in England, Ireland, and Scotland. Of the thirty-seven objects in this geographic classification, several are especially noteworthy, such as the Two-Handled Cup of 1703-04 attributed to Mathew West (figure 5).7 The Britannia-standard cup rests upon a cast gadrooned circular foot, the body ornamented with spiral flutes and gadroons capped by a band of matting and stamped foliate devices. These motifs and the scroll handles with graduated beading are ubiquitous in the designs for two-handled cups produced in England during the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne. The consistent vocabulary of motifs used on this cup renders it a representative example of early eighteenth-century taste.A pair of Sauceboats from 1757-58 (figure 6)8 can be ascribed to George Methuen of London. The gracefully curved bodies of the sauceboats rest upon three cast shell-and-scroll feet, the legs ornamented with a gadrooned edge. Leaf-and-scroll handles complete the pieces, and illustrate the adaptation of French-inspired rococo decor to relatively simple and conservative forms.A Coffeepot by Thomas Whipham (figure 7)9 is likewise typical of midcentury English taste: a relaxed pear-shaped body rests upon a spreading circular foot. The cast spout assumes a graceful S-curve, the lower half of which is formed of stylized shell fluting. A stepped and domed lid is completed by a swirled flame finial. Thomas Whipham was apprenticed to the silversmith Thomas Farren (see figure 8) on July 3, 1728, and entered his first mark as an independent silversmith at Goldsmith's Hall in 1737. In the same year that Whipham produced this coffeepot, he entered into a partnership with Charles Wright (see figure 9). Whipham held several offices in the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, including the prestigious position of Prime Warden for the Company in 1771. It is particularly interesting to have three objects that reveal something of the interrelationships which existed among London silversmiths during the eighteenth century.Among the domestic forms in the Baldwin Collection is a work by a woman silversmith of the eighteenth century: a Ladle of 1740-41 by Dinah Gamon (figure 10),10 widow of the silversmith John Gamon. Her mark (figure 11) is enclosed in a lozenge, the standard heraldic indication of widowhood. Dinah Gamon was among more than one hundred women active as silversmiths in London during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; her work now joins objects in the Institute by Elizabeth Godfrey and the well-known Hester Bateman.A particularly fine pair of candlesticks in the Baldwin Collection was made by the partnership of Robert Makepeace and Richard Carter in 1777-78 (figure 12),11 apparently the only year in which the two smiths worked together. The elegant neoclassical candlesticks, with swagged square bases and tapered shafts ornamented with anthemia and acanthus motifs, are formed of thin sheet silver soldered together to create an impression of great weight and stability; both the design and the technique are typical of late eighteenth-century work in England and America. The candlesticks are engraved with a crest of the sun issuing from a cloud and the motto Clarior e Tenebris (“the brighter from previous obscurity”) (figure 13), undoubtedly a reference to the family name of Bright, to whom the pieces presumably belonged.Irish silver in the collection includes two pieces from Cork, the most active center for silversmithing outside of Dublin. A particularly refined Teapot by William Clarke (figure 14)12 can be dated stylistically to the years around 1715-1730. Clarity of profile and the purity of the planished surface distinguish this object. Typical of Irish design is the Sugar Bowl by Carden Terry (figure 15),13 fitted with three shell-and-pad feet.American silver is represented by a late eighteenth-century Teapot by Garret Schanck of New York (figure 16).14 Garret Schanck and his brother John were silversmiths in post-Revolutionary New York. For a time, Garret was in partnership with Daniel Van Voorhis, another Dutch-American silversmith. The severely restrained neoclassical form of the teapot—a geometrically precise oval in section—is relieved by the bright-cut floral swag from which depends a plain shield, and by the finely cast pineapple finial.Another important group of objects within the Baldwin Collection consists of thirty Russian charki or vodka cups (figure 17). Much Russian domestic silver was produced for use in ceremonial traditions, including the sharing of wine and spirits. Charki, probably the smallest of the drinking vessels made for personal use during the eighteenth century, have survived in greater numbers than their grander counterparts, the kovsh (ladle) and the bratina (loving cup). The vodka cups in the Baldwin bequest range in date from 1738 to 1795 and are primarily of Moscow workmanship. The group illustrates most of the forms and decorations preferred for these vessels, including fluted bodies with engraved upper portions, oval lobed forms with rococo decoration, and engraving of delicate foliage, flowers, and insects.This brief survey of the Baldwin bequest can only suggest the variety of forms, makers, countries, and periods represented. It is remarkable for the breadth of its scope and also for its quality. The collection demonstrates not only the skill and artistry of numerous diverse silversmiths, but also the taste of a discriminating and generous collector.David McFadden, formerly Curator of Decorative Arts at the Institute, is now Curator of Decorative Arts at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design in New York.Endnotes
  1. Eloi Guérin
    Paris, France, born about 1704, died between 1760-65
    Candlesticks (2), 1743
    Silver, 10
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.74.1,2
  2. Henry Nocq, Le Poinçon de Paris; Repertoire des Maîtres-oèvres de la juridiction de Paris depuis le Moyen-âge jusqu' à la fin du VXIIIe siècle (Paris: H. Floury, Editeur, 1927), vol. 2, pp. 288-89.
  3. A more elaborate example of Guérin's domestic work is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; a Covered Porringer of 1749-50, formerly in the Wentworth Collection, is illustrated in Faith Dennis, Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver. . . (New York: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1960), vol. 1, p. 133, no. 176.
  4. Noel-César Boutheroue-Desmarais, called le Cadet
    Paris, France, born about 1740, died about 1793
    Wine Taster
    Silver, 3 (diameter)
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.60
    Nocq, Le Poinçon . . . , vol. 1, p. 184.
  5. Maker AS
    Venice, Italy
    Candlesticks, about 1750
    Silver, 7
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.72.1,2
  6. Maker unknown
    Turin, Italy
    Footed Salver, about 1750
    Silver, 10-1/2 (diameter)
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.57
  7. Probably Mathew West
    London, England, active about 1697-about 1730-35
    Two-Handled Cup, 1703-04
    Silver, 6 (diameter)
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.76
    Although the mark on the object varies slightly from that shown in Arthur G. Grimwade, London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Their Marks and Lives . . . (London: Faber and Faber, 1976), no. 3094, it can be safely attributed to West.
  8. Probably George Methuen
    London, England, first mark entered 1743
    Sauce Boats (2), 1757-58
    Silver, 4-3/4 x 9
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.69.1,2
    For a similar maker's mark, see Grimwade, London Goldsmiths, no. 852.
  9. Thomas Whipham
    London, England, about 1715-1785
    Coffeepot, 1756-57
    Silver and wood, 9-1/4
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.12
    For mark, see Grimwade, London Goldsmiths, no. 2794.
  10. Dinah Gamon
    London, England, mark entered 1740
    Ladle, 1740-41
    Silver and wood, 13-1/2 (length)
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.55
    For mark, see Grimwade, London Goldsmiths, no. 466.
  11. Robert Makepeace and Richard Carter
    London, England
    Candlesticks (2), 1777-78
    Silver, 11-3/4
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.71.1,2
    For mark, see Grimwade, London Goldsmiths, no. 2375.
  12. William Clarke
    Cork, Ireland
    Teapot, about 1715-1730
    Silver and wood, 5-1/2
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.16
    The mark of the silversmith is found in Charles James Jackson, English Goldsmiths and Their Marks. . . (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1921), p. 691.
  13. Carden Terry
    Cork, Ireland
    Sugar Bowl, about 1780
    Silver, 2-1/2
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.77
    For mark see Jackson, English Goldsmiths, p. 694.
  14. Garret Schanck
    New York, active about 1790
    Teapot, about 1790-95
    Silver, 6
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.7
    For mark, see Stephen G. C. Ensko, American Silversmiths and Their Marks III (New York: privately printed, 1948), p. 182.
Referenced Works of Art
  1. Eloi Guérin
    French (Paris), about 1704-1760/65
    Candlesticks, 1743
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.74
  2. French, XVIII century
    Wine Taster
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.60
  3. Venetian
    Candlesticks, about 1750
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.72
  4. Italian (Turin)
    Footed Salver, about 1750
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.57
  5. Attributed to Mathew West
    English (London)
    Two-Handled Cup, 1703-04
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.76
  6. Attributed to George Methuen
    English (London)
    Sauceboats, 1757-58
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.68
  7. Thomas Whipham
    English (London)
    Coffeepot, 1756-57
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.12
  8. Thomas Farren
    English (London)
    Coffeepot, 1727-28
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.6
  9. Dinah Gamon
    English (London)
    Ladle, 1740-41
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.55
  10. Detail of figure 10 showing Dinah Gamon's mark
  11. Robert Makepeace and Richard Carter
    English (London)
    Candlesticks, 1777-78
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.71
  12. Detail of figure 12 showing family crest
  13. William Clarke
    Irish (Cork)
    Teapot, about 1715-30
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.16
  14. Carden Terry
    Irish (Cork)
    Sugar Bowl, about 1780
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.77
  15. Garret Schanck
    American (New York)
    Teapot, about 1790-95
    Bequest of Philip S. Baldwin, 77.22.7
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Source: David Revere McFadden, "The Baldwin Bequest: Recent Acquisitions in Silver," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 63 (1976-1977): 131-143.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009