Last week the comments made clear that my choice of photographs to illustrate repousse caused more confusion than clarity. Let’s try again 🙂 as Notes & Observations is intended to help – not bewilder – you!
To recap, repousse is the technique in which a pattern or other decorative motif (such as the nude on the whiskey flask) is literally pushed into the silver from behind. Commonly it’s used as a repeating design on a border or rim. It can be anything…from Salacia on the right to the roses on the fork shown below.
There will be a test at some point, so remember!
It’s quite possible that it will be in the form of a pop quiz. Imagine there you are on holiday taking in the local scene and suddenly you’re standing in someone’s antique shop thinking “Damn, what was that Notes and Observations post saying?”
Here we have our Repousse silver – swirly, girly, gloriously rose strewn fork
Another example is this fantastic vintage silver serving piece from Alvin. It’s the Orient pattern, c.1910.
On the scoop, see the scroll pattern as it flows off the handle?
Hopefully this has cleared up any lingering confusion.
Now you can speak confidently about repousse work.
A few extra tidbits. Repousse silver was brought to America by Samuel Kirk in the 1820’s. He had been to Europe and seen the technique there. Once home again – in Baltimore – he set a new standard for American silver. By the way, repousse and Kirk are so strongly associated with Baltimore that there is an actual term – Baltimore silver.
Also, in the pieces that is have shown above, do you see how crisp both sides are. Everything is executed with precision and confidence. Every so often one runs across a…for the lack of a better word…muddy piece of repousse. It’s not a function of time and use having worn down the pattern, it’s that the pattern wasn’t done well in the first place.
Remember, you might find yourself taking a pop quiz at any moment as you stand contemplating a piece. 🙂 Especially all you lucky folks who will be at Round Top and Brimfield! I hope this helps.
As always, I thrive on your comments! Do you have a favorite piece of repousse? Do you like it as an accent or all over??
Please share this post – help spread the word that silver is for more than special occasions. Thanks!