Lotus Bowl, 1912–17
This is a bowl. It was designed by Clara Barck Welles and manufactured by The Kalo Shops. It is dated 1912–17 and we acquired it in 2008. Its medium is raised and chased silver. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.
The beautiful form of this bowl is a very rare example of Kalo metalwork. While various examples of rounded squat bowls exist, this taller, everted form is quite unusual. The piece is marked with both Chicago and New York, indicating the narrow range of production dates associated with both locations, and is highly desirable for being a period of production of new designs and high quality.
The early periods of Kalo espoused the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, showing visible signs of the hand-wrought method of production. Unlike contemporary English examples of Arts and Crafts metalwork, Kalo looked less to medieval sources for inspiration than to earlier periods of American handcrafted work, including the 18th and early 19th century, which was integrated into the designs in a way that was ahead of its time. This bowl has a simple, graceful beauty. The ornament is restricted to the form, the applied border, and to the hammered surface that reflects light to create texture.
Other firms of the period, especially Arthur Stone and Old Newbury Crafters in Massachusetts, and Shreve and Company in San Francisco, specialized in returning to handcrafted work. Much of the work of the Massachusetts firms, however, was closer to reproductions of earlier styles than new creations in the aesthetic of their day. Chicago was a center of the American Arts and Crafts aesthetic, led by the architecture of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others whose designs often led to Gesamtkunstwerks incorporating furniture, silver, ceramics, and other aspects of interior design produced by specialized artisans.
American Arts and Crafts objects are a collection priority in general, and Kalo silver is specifically earmarked as an area of collection interest for 19th- and early 20th-century objects. American Arts and Crafts exerted international influence, and the Kalo Shop is a product of the Chicago design style of the Prairie School, a movement that also had international implications. While we do have a gold and baroque pearl finger ring by Kalo, this would be the first example of American Arts and Crafts silver in the collection. The museum does hold Rockledge silver flatware by Gorham designed by Prairie School architect, George Washington Maher, and two Martelé pieces, but these are more art nouveau than Arts and Crafts. This is an unusually fine example and would be a great addition to the silver collection as a highlight of this period.
It is credited
Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
Its dimensions are
H x diam.: 14.6 x 20.3 cm (5 3/4 x 8 in.)
It has the following markings
Stamped on underside: STERLING / HANDWROUGHT / AT / THE KALO SHOPS / CHICAGO / AND / NEW YORK / 38
Cite this object as
Lotus Bowl, 1912–17; Designed by Clara Barck Welles (American, 1868 – 1965); USA; raised and chased silver; H x diam.: 14.6 x 20.3 cm (5 3/4 x 8 in.); Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; 2008-3-1