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Eliel Saarinen, American (born Finland), 1873–1950
Wilcox Silver Plate Company, Meriden, Connecticut
and International Silver Company, Meriden, Connecticut
Silver plate
Made in
Meriden, Connecticut, United States, North and Central America
Metalwork, tools & equipment
Current Location
On View, Gallery 132
urn: 14 1/4 x 10 3/4 x 11 1/4 in. (36.2 x 27.3 x 28.6 cm)
heating element: 2 x 3 x 3 5/8 in. (5.1 x 7.6 x 9.2 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Shop Fund and funds given by the Marjorie Wyman Endowment Fund, Alice S. Gerdine, Mrs. Charles W. Lorenz, the Gary Wolff Family, Daniel Morris and Denis Gallion, Elissa and Paul Cahn, an anonymous donor, Mr. and Mrs. L. Max Lippman Jr., Dr. and Mrs. F. Thomas Ott, and the E. Reuben and Gladys Flora Grant Charitable Trust
Public Domain
Object Number
The Finnish-born architect Eliel Saarinen first designed this urn for a 1934 exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, "Contemporary American Industrial Art." The goal of this celebrated exhibition was to promote a new aesthetic for mass production and to help foster the development of industrial design in the United States. Saarinen was one of several leading architects in the country invited to design a furnished room for the exhibit. His "Room for a Lady" included furniture, textiles, fashion, and silver designs. The most famous piece from Saarinen's salon-style installation was the silver-plated urn identical to this one, few of which were ever produced. Its precise geometric forms, absence of ornament, sleek reflective surfaces, and elegant proportions expressed the new "modern" style that came to be associated with progress, optimism, and forward-looking American industrial design.
c.1995 -
Mood Indigo, New York, NY, purchased from a dealer [1]

by 1999 - 2003
Historical Design Inc., New York, NY [2]

2003 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Historical Design Inc. [3]

[1] Diane Petipas, of Mood Indigo, stated that she purchased the urn around 1995 from a dealer who had found it in an antique shop, possibly in Ohio or Pennsylvania. She also stated that she sold the piece to Historical Design [telephone conversation between Petipas and Saint Louis Art Museum research assistant Pam Stewart, April 2, 2003, documented in an email in SLAM document files].

[2] According to Historical Design, they had the urn in their collection in 1999, and purchased the piece through a third party [email, SLAM document files].

[3] Invoice dated February 26, 2003 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, June 3, 2003.
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