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Shaping a Collection: Recent Acquisitions in the Decorative Arts

December 18, 2004 - March 20, 2005

 

Shaping a Collection: Recent Acquisitions in the Decorative Arts will be on view at the Georgia Museum of Art from December 18, 2004, through March 20, 2005. (left: Eulala Amos, fish plate with silver inlay, 1946. Earthenware with alkaline blue glaze, 25 1/2 inches (diameter). Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer, GMOA 2004.44)

Featuring the recent additions to the museum's young and rapidly expanding collection of decorative arts, this exhibition will showcase 17 pieces of period silver flatware. The Georgia pieces all are made by mid-19th-century silversmiths and include a ladle made by H. P. Horton who worked in Savannah.

Ashley Callahan, curator of decorative arts, says the primary collecting focus of the department is to assemble works made in, or related to, Georgia. Callahan, a specialist in textiles, has added two rare examples of this medium to the collection, which will be on view: an 1834 Masonic apron and a wool and cotton quilt, c. 1956, found in Hart County and made by an unidentified African American maker. The apron features embroidery and watercolor on silk and originally belonged to a physician in Macon. This ceremonial textile is highly decorated with symbols important to the Masonic tradition. The African American quilt is made of dark pieces of cloth used in men's suits, and is decorated with brightly embroidered names.

An unusual work related to Georgia is a certificate of merit (1847) executed in watercolor on paper and in its original gilt frame. It is a rare work of art that was presented to a young student from Georgia who attended a female seminary in Washington, D.C.

A large segment of the exhibition is composed of pottery by Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001). Amos began teaching at the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art in 1949 and retired as professor emeritus in 1970. Born in Ohio, Amos attended Ashland College and began teaching immediately after graduation. "The art of pottery runs in Amos's family," says Irja Thurlow, who authored a brochure on Amos. "A Pennsylvania Dutch ancestor made pottery until the onset of the Revolutionary War. One of his works is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

Amos's methods were much more contemporary than those of her colonial forebear. Throughout her career, she experimented with different clays and glazes. She was known for her philosophy of "fitting the glaze to the pot." She is recognized for her use of silver inlay, inspired by a trip to the dentist for a filling, which eventually led to her master's thesis at Ohio State.

Another contemporary note in the exhibition is the forged and fabricated steel table (2003) made by Andrew T. Crawford. A native of New Jersey, Crawford has lived in Atlanta since 1971. He founded Andrew T. Crawford Ironworks in 1993 after his graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design, and continues his work there with three full-time craftsmen.

The museum's decorative arts collection dates back to 1999 when the museum started the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of Decorative Arts that now numbers approximately 200 objects. The late Henry Green was an early advocate of the decorative arts in Georgia. All of the works in this exhibition have been either museum purchases or donated to the museum by patrons.

On view in the Martha and Eugene Odum Gallery of Decorative Arts, Shaping a Collection is sponsored by the Friends of the Museum and the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation. (right: Andrew T Crawford (American, b. 1970), All Thread , 2003. Forged and fabricated steel, 28 x 18 x 18 inches. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia.)

 

Label text and object information from the exhibition:

 

In 1998 the Georgia Museum of Art held the first meeting of its Decorative Arts Advisory Committee. The following year the committee named the museum's new decorative arts program the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts in honor of the pioneer advocate of Georgia's decorative arts, Henry D. Green (1909-2003). The Green Center holds biennial symposia (the first in 2002, the third planned for early 2006); presents decorative arts exhibitions and lectures; and houses the Green Library, the papers of Henry D. Green, and the Georgia Decorative Arts Survey, which was sponsored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia in the late 1980s.

The Green Center also encourages the acquisition of decorative arts for the museum's permanent collection. Shaping a Collection celebrates these new additions to the collection, many of which have never been presented publicly. This selection of objects reflects the Green Center's collecting mission: the primary focus is on works made in Georgia, such as the Masonic apron and All Thread, and works of significance to Georgia, such as the certificate of merit and the clock, while the secondary focus is on works made in the Southeast, such as the silver sorbet spoons. Subsequent collecting focuses are to acquire works that provide an American and then a European context for the Southern objects. By bringing these works into the museum's permanent collection, the Green Center is endeavoring to place them in a context in which they can be studied and to maintain them for future generations.

The Green Center appreciates the generous donors of both objects and funds who have made these recent acquisitions possible.

 
-- Ashley Callahan
Curator, Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts
 
 
 
The study of nineteenth-century Georgia silver is complicated by the fact that many wares from the North were imported to the South and marked with the name of their retailer. Determining whether a particular object was crafted or just retailed in Georgia often is difficult or impossible. Regardless of the place of origin, though, the items with Georgia marks indicate that consumers in this state purchased wares that were consistent stylistically with production in other parts of the country. An important reference book documenting silversmiths and retailers in Georgia is George Barton Cutten's The Silversmiths of Georgia (1958), which was reprinted in 1998 with the addition of an article from The Magazine Antiques by Katharine Gross Farnham and Callie Huger Efird titled "Early Silversmiths and the Silver Trade in Georgia" (1971). The Georgia Decorative Arts Survey documents additional marks of silver makers and retailers working in Georgia.
 
F. & H. Clark (American, active Augusta, Georgia 1830-1840)
Mustard ladle, c. 1830-40
Silver
4 5/8 x 15/16 x 5/8 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase with partial funds provided by Betty Myrtle, 2002 Volunteer of the Year, and M. Smith Griffith
GMOA 2004.27
 
This ladle originally belonged to the mother-in-law of Athens silversmith A. K. Childs.
 
 
David B. Nichols (American, 1791-1860, active Savannah, Georgia c. 1815-1855)
Set of four teaspoons, n.d
Silver
approximately 5 5/8 x 1 1/8 x 1 3/16 inches each
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase with partial funds provided by Betty Myrtle, 2002 Volunteer of the Year, and M. Smith Griffith
GMOA 2004.28-.31
 
These teaspoons originally belonged to the Taylor family of Athens.
 
 
H. P. Horton (American, active in Savannah, Georgia c. 1850)
Ladle, c. 1850
Silver
7 3/8 x 2 1/2 x 5/8 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase with funds provided by the Beverly H. Bremer Charitable Lead Unitrust
GMOA 2004.33
 
According to the previous owner this ladle and the set of forks descended in the same family. The mark "Horton," seen on the forks, is not included in the book The Silversmiths of Georgia by George Barton Cutten, but it is documented in the Georgia Decorative Arts Survey.
 
 
Horton (American, active in Savannah, Georgia c. 1850)
Set of eight forks, c. 1850
Silver
approximately 7 7/8 x 1 x 1 1/16 inches each
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase with funds provided by the Beverly H. Bremer Charitable Lead Unitrust
GMOA 2004.34-.41
 
 
Thomas T. Wilmot (American, c. 1804- c. 1850, active Charleston, South Carolina c. 1837-1841, Columbus, Georgia 1844-1845, and Savannah, Georgia 1843-1850)
Two spoons, c. 1840s
Silver
6 5/8 x 1 9/16 x 1 inches each
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Brian S. Brown
GMOA 2004.18-.19
 
These spoons originally belonged to Mary Clay Hill, whose monogram is engraved on the spoons. She died in Clarkesville, Georgia.
 
 
Newton E. Crittenden (American, 1826-1872, active Cleveland, Ohio, c. 1826-1872)
Tongs, 1856
Coin silver
8 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Edgar and Betty Myrtle
GMOA 2004.14
 
Newton E. Crittenden was active in Cleveland, Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century. These tongs are marked with a patent date of 1856.
 
 
Eulala Amos inscribed the following words into one of her pots: "Of clay we are made, and fire. This is true of the pots and of you and me and everybody else who lives and breathes." She brought the passion and dedication to pottery expressed in that quotation to her role as a ceramics professor in the art department of the University of Georgia from 1949 until her retirement in 1970.
 
Amos is particularly noted for her use of silver in her ceramics. Inspired by a visit to the dentist, she devised a method of inlaying silver in her pottery in a manner similar to adding a filling to a tooth. She drilled holes in the pottery and filled them with silver amalgam. This collection of objects, which represents a wide span of her career, features two works with silver inlay, the plate with the fish design and the vase with the silver and green ornamentation on its exterior.
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Plate, 1946
Earthenware with silver inlay
15 1/2 inches (diameter)
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.44
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1946
Stoneware with silver inlay
6 3/4 (h) x 6 1/2 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.45
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1956
Earthenware
8 3/4 (h) x 3 1/4 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.46
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1968
Stoneware
6 1/2 (h) x 4 1/4 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.47
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1970
Stoneware
5 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.48
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1945
Earthenware
4 (h) x 5 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.49
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Bowl, 1942
Earthenware
2 (h) x 7 1/4 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.50
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Pitcher with lid, 1965
Stoneware
6 (h) x 4 1/2 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.51
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Vase, 1946
Stoneware
5 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.52
 
 
Eulala Amos (American, 1907-2001)
Ashtray, 1953
Earthenware
1 1/2 (h) x 4 1/2 (d) inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Dr. Elizabeth T. Sheerer
GMOA 2004.53
 
 
Unidentified maker (American) (object found in Hart County, GA)
Quilt, ca. 1956
Wool and cotton
85 x 71 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase
GMOA 2004.71
 
The strip construction of this quilt is typical of African American quilts. The bright lettering enlivens the surface of the somber strips, possibly constructed from mens' suit fabrics. The names may be from an extended family, church group, or social organization. The quilt was found in Hart County by pickers Mary and Jack Latimer.
 
 
Mrs. Robert Carver (Georgia)
Masonic apron, 1834
Silk with watercolor and metallic beads, linen
16 _ x 15 3/8 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Emmett T. Bragg
GMOA 2004.20
 
Unidentified maker (Georgia)
Masonic apron, c. 1834
Silk and linen
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Emmett T. Bragg
GMOA 2004.21.1-3
 
Unidentified maker
Masonic certificate, July 13, c. 1840s
Engraving on paper
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Emmett T. Bragg
GMOA 2004.22
 
This rare Masonic ceremonial apron is accompanied by an undecorated apron and a certificate, all originally belonging to Dr. Robert Carver of Marshallville and Macon, Georgia. His wife embroidered the apron and the group of objects descended in their family until their recent owner, a family friend, donated them to the Georgia Museum of Art.
 
All of the images on the apron are significant to the fraternal organization and symbolize the Mason's rank, stages of life, and moral beliefs. The numerous symbols, both individually and collectively, have various meanings and many levels of interpretation. Following are possible explanations for some of the images: the All-Seeing Eye at the top represents the watchfulness of God; the beehive is a symbol of industriousness; the twenty-four inch gauge in the lower left symbolizes the hours of the day divided into three equal parts, devotion to God, work, and rest; the anchor is an emblem of hope; the ladder is known as Jacob's Ladder and the letters on the rungs stand for Faith, Hope, and Charity; the G represents both God and geometry; and the architectural structure recalls King Solomon's Temple, which some believe to be the place of origin of Freemasonry.
 
 

Furniture:

 
Andrew T. Crawford (American, b. 1970)
All Thread, 2003
Forged and fabricated steel
28 x 18 x 18 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of the artist
This gift is in progress.
 
Andrew T. Crawford offers a new perspective on the traditional wooden Shaker end table. With this work in steel he mixes references to the Shaker form -- he took the dimensions from a table he particularly liked -- with his interest in sculpture, metal, and tools-the title, All Thread, and the detailing suggest the threads on a screw.
 
Crawford, who has lived in Atlanta since he was one year old, is founder and owner of Andrew T. Crawford Ironworks. He is a full-time professional sculptor, and his work is displayed in numerous public spaces in Georgia including at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Brenau University, and midtown Atlanta. Crawford often references tools and machinery in his lighthearted sculpture and functional objects-twisting rulers, super sizing hammers, and melting wrenches.
 
 
New Haven Clock Company (New Haven, Connecticut, 1853-1960)
Mantle clock, c. 1850s
Mixed woods and metals, with glass tablet
25 7/8 x 15 3/8 x 4 1/8 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Jackie and Tony Montag
GMOA 2004.17
 
Unidentified artist
Franklin College, in Athens, Georgia, c. 1844
From Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
Color wood engraving on paper
6 x 9 _ inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Mrs. Laura Blackshear
GMOA 1964.1054
 
Painted on the reverse of the glass tablet in this clock is an early image of the University of Georgia. Shown here from Franklin College is Old College in the center with the Chapel, Demosthenian Hall, the Ivy Building and the Presbyterian Church to the right, and Phi Kappa Hall to the left. The wooden fence depicted was replaced in the 1850s by a cast iron fence produced in Athens. The print was illustrated in Gleason's Pictorial Magazine in 1844 and appeared on mantle clocks manufactured by several New England clock companies in the mid-nineteenth century.
 
 

Works on paper:

 
Lydia Scudder English (American, 1802-1865)
Certificate of merit for Sarah Elizabeth Moughon, 1847
watercolor on paper in original gilt frame
6 1/8 x 5 3/8 inches (sight)
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; museum purchase with funds provided by the Collectors Group of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art
GMOA 2004.10
 
The delicate handwritten script on this certificate of merit reads:
 

Female Seminary Georgetown DC

February 11th 1847

Miss Sarah Elizabeth Moughon,

during the Term ending this day,

has strictly complied with the

regulation for Early Rising, thereby

meriting approbation in the high-

est degree, and ranking in the

First Grade for Punctuality

L. S. English

Principal

 
Lydia Scudder English, founder and principal for over thirty years of the Female Seminary in Georgetown, presented this certificate to Sarah Elizabeth Moughon, a student from Columbus, Georgia, in 1847. This rare object contributes to our understanding of schoolgirl education in Georgia in the mid-nineteenth century, and documents the connection between southern girls and northern schools.
 
Though it is often more difficult to find documentation relating to women's lives than men's during this period, schoolgirls, unlike schoolboys, left behind embroidered pictures, needlework samplers, and artistic ephemera that provide clues about their experiences.
 
Several items related to this certificate survive, including a handwritten certificate from 1850 with the same text and a different image for another girl, a bookmark by Moughon, and a printed certificate for Moughon "for diligence and attention to her studies".
 
 
Campbell & Wyman (American, active Montgomery, Alabama c. 1855- c. 1859)
John Campbell (American, 1824-1887)
Justus Wyman (American, dates unknown)
Sorbet spoons with original case, 1855
Coin silver
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry T. Catchpole
This gift is in progress.
 
The original paper label on the bottom of the case for these spoons describes the firm of Campbell & Wyman as importers and dealers of watches, jewelry and silverware. This firm, like many others in the South, imported and retailed silver from New York, and though these spoons only bear the mark of the Alabama firm, they may have been executed in New York.
 
John Campbell was born in South Carolina and orphaned at a young age. He studied at The Citadel in Charleston before joining the U.S. Army and serving in the Mexican War. After the war he worked in Columbia, South Carolina as a silversmith and jeweler, then moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1849 to work in the same field. After working on his own, he formed a partnership with Justus Wyman, then added a third partner. He sold his interest in 1859 and became a farmer and served in the Civil War.

 

Editor's note: RL wishes to express appreication to Ashley Callahan, Curator of Decorative Arts, Georgia Museum of Art for providing texts for this article.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Georgia Museum of Art in Resource Library.


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