Tea Service: Sugar Bowl and Cover

Jones, Ball and Poor, American, mid - 19th century
Woodward and Grosjean, American, mid - 19th century
Boston, Massachusetts

Share

1846-1852

Silver

Overall: 7 1/4 × 5 1/2 in. (18.4 × 14 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Judge Bailey Aldrich in commemoration of a warm friendship with Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924

M.975.80.3

Geography

Place Made: United States, North America

Period

19th century

Object Name

Tools and Equipment: Food Service

Research Area

Decorative Arts

On view

Inscriptions

Marked on bottom: JONES. BALL & POOR / PURE COIN / W & G. / BOSTON [each in rectangular punch]; engraved on bottom, in script: E.P. and B.A. / August 13, 1932

Label

The exuberant ornamentation of these vessels reflects the popularity of nature-based design motifs in American decorative arts of the mid-19th century. Notice the recurring floral elements, rough-textured handles shaped like tree branches, and applied trailing vines and leaves. Most thought-provoking are the finials designed as unclothed agrarian figures—presumably Native Americans. Atop the teapot, a woman with a long braid examines an oversized vegetable or blossom, the covered sugar bowl supports a figure wrapped in leafy stalks, and the milk jug features a child apparently eating berries from a basket.Such intimate engagements with fruits or flowers echo the persistent, reductive stereotype of Native Americans being close to nature. These vessels are part of a six-piece tea service formerly owned by famed lawyer, statesman, and Dartmouth alumnus Daniel Webster.


From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art



|

The finials on the tea set portray unclothed figures, presumably Native Americans. Above the teapot, a woman with a long braid examines an oversized vegetable or blossom; the covered sugar bowl supports a figure wrapped in leafy stalks; and the milk jug features a child eating berries from a basket. Such intimate engagements with fruits or flowers echo the persistent, reductive stereotype of Native Americans being close to nature.

Daniel Webster (Class of 1801, portrayed in the above portrait) purchased this set in the late 1840s. In March 1847, he also purchased an enslaved man named Paul Jennings, granting Jennings his freedom if he worked for Webster to repay the debt. Jennings likely served tea from this set, because Webster later recommended him to another employer as a “very honest . . . and competent dining room servant.” Paul Jennings, born in Virginia and previously enslaved to President James Madison, wrote the first White House memoire in 1865.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

ANTH 7.05, Animals and Humans, Laura Ogden, Winter 2022

GEOG 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ANTH 50.05, Environmental Archaeology, Madeleine McLeester, Winter 2022

ARTH 5.01, Introduction to Contemporary Art, Mary Coffey and Chad Elias, Winter 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Summer 2022

SPAN 65.15, Wonderstruck: Archives and the Production of Knowledge in an Unequal World, Silvia Spitta and Barbara Goebel, Summer 2022

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.

American Decorative Arts at Dartmouth, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 10-March 1, 1981.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, November 1977-January 1978.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 15, 1976-January 28, 1977.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center Art Galleries, Dartmouth College, June 21, 1979.

Hood Treasures, Harrington Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1985.

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

Silver Case, Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1987.

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 5–July 22, 2022.

Publication History

Margaret J. Moody, American Decorative Arts at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: The Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1981, p. 49.

Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 195, no. 165.

Provenance

In the collection of Daniel Webster; 1975 given to Dartmouth College by Judge Bailey Aldrich

This record is part of an active database that includes information from historic documentation that may not have been recently reviewed. Information may be inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledge some language and imagery may be offensive, violent, or discriminatory. These records reflect the institution’s history or the views of artists or scholars, past and present. Our collections research is ongoing.

We welcome questions, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Please contact us at: Hood.Collections@dartmouth.edu

Subjects