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Swedish Silver - The Rococo (circa 1750-1775)

[Silver In The Middle Ages (circa 1050-1520)]  [The Renaissance (circa 1520-1650)]  [The Baroque (circa 1650-1700)]  [The Late Baroque (circa 1700-1720)]  [Period Of Fredrik I (circa 1720-1750)]  [The Rococo (circa 1750-1775)]  [The Gustavian Era (circa 1775-1810)]  [Empire (circa 1810-1830)]  [The Period Of Eclecticism (circa 1830-1895)]  [The Jugend Style Or L'Art Nouveau (circa 1895-1910)]  [Modern Developments]  [Silver Marks]  [More Articles On Silver] 

( Originally Published 1951 )



In no other period as the rococo, has silver been produced which has so interested contemporary collectors. Perhaps rococo forms and decoration were particularly well suited to silver. Certainly in this malleable metal, rococo artists found a perfect medium for ornamentation, and at this time there were Swedish silversmiths of outstanding technical and artistic skill. Even when we see a rococo piece which seems overdecorated, we respect the skill with which the master smith used hammer, punch, and iron to produce form and design.

The enthusiasm for elaboration and flowing line is reflected in coffee sets, of which many have been preserved. The pot was pear-shaped and rested on a profiled base or on three leaf-, shaped feet. The handsome piece made by Michael Astriirn (1764-1790) of Stockholm is decorated with scrolls and garlands. The spout is formed in a typical rocaille motif. The domed cover with its curved lines is symmetrically joined to the body of the vessel.

Even more ornate is the masterpiece of Petter Eneroth (1771-1808) shown in Stockholm in 1771. It is typically rococo with its profusion of floral festoons and the dolphin spout.

On other coffeepots, mirror-smooth surfaces are a perfect background for flowers in chased work. A good example of this more restrained type was designed by Andreas Ronnow (1777-1819), of Halsingborg.A simple type of decoration, more often applied to candlesticks than to coffeepots, was curved and faceted. Johan Bergengren (1752-1788) of Kristianstad made a coffeepot in 1764 on which the floral decoration is limited to a small cover ornament. The handsome swirled fluting on the surface of the vessel enhances the elegance of the pear-shaped form.

Teapots resemble coffeepots, but are usually wider and lower. Many have a chased decoration of spirals and flowers similar to that on coffeepots, but often design is very simple. An example is a teapot made by Johan Christoffer Ljungmarcker (1752-1779)of Gothenburg in 1768. Decoration is limited to two narrow borders. A small floral ornament tops the cover, and the symmetrical spouts are gently lobed.

The shell-shaped cream pitchers of the period are usually designed as low ovals resting on three leaf-shaped feet. The bowl is sometimes smooth, sometimes ornamented with a chased shell-and flower design, as in the piece made by Carl Fahlberg (1755-1796) of Upsala in 1755. Handles and thumb rests are gaily fashioned in typical rococo style and the rim is rhythmically scalloped. A handsome, less common, type of pitcher-possibly intended only as a gravy boatwas designed by Pehr Zethelius (1766-1810) of Stockholm in 1776. Symmetrical lips and classic form and decoration make this an outstanding piece of rococo art.

Contrasting with French Rococo tureens, often overornamented with still lifes in chased work, the Swedish adaptation is simplicity itself. A graceful example is a tureen of 1770 by Nils Dahl (1739-1793) of Linkoping. The gleaming surfaces are complemented by elegant ornaments on cover, handles, and footrests. The smaller bowls, on the other hand, show that Swedish silversmiths could adapt themselves to the gaiety and lavishness of the Continental Rococo. Pehr Zethelius' bowl. dated 1761, one example of many types made, is exquisitely ornamented, and somehow suggestive of the flickering rays of the Northern Lights.

In rococo candelabras, form and decoration blend perfectly. There is rhythm in the spirals twisting from base to tip of each leaf-shaped branch. The candelabrum, made in Stockholm in 1760 by Jonas Ronander (1749-1786) is typical.

Single candleholders are less ornate, but the spiral-twisted rhythm remains. Sometimes chased ridges and facets are substituted for rich ornamentation, as in the candleholder from 1758 by the Stockholm master, Isak Sauer (1750-1777).

Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, cutlery was made in sets: spoons, knives, and forks being uniformly designed. The "French model" was popular. A set made in 1774 by Jonas Ronander is typical.



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