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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Covered muffin dish
Date: ca. 1900
Medium: Silver
Dimensions: 5 1/2 x 9 9/16 inches (14 x 24.3 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Isabel and William Berley, Classes of 1947 and 1945
Object Number: 99.078.100
Label Text: BRIEF DESCRIPTION
This shallow silver dish was designed by Charles Robert Ashbee.

WHERE WAS IT MADE?
The dish was made by the Guild of Handicraft in London, England.

WHO WAS THE ARTIST?
Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) was a designer and architect from England and a central figure of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris, Ashbee established the Guild and School of Handicraft in London in 1888. The Guild created some of the finest English Art Nouveau furniture, silver and other handicrafts.

HOW WAS IT MADE?
The muffin dish and lid were made from sheets of silver (or silver plate) and hand-raised, or shaped, by gradually hammering the metal to achieve the desired form. The surface was finished with a technique called planishing, which leaves a subtle texture of many visible dents. Ashbee chose to have the dishes planished, rather than smoothed and polished on a lathe, because he liked the hand-made look derived from planishing, and the way that it drew attention to the material itself. Planishing is done by gently hammering the surface with a round-faced hammer.

HOW WAS IT USED?
The high cover of this dish was made to accommodate a stack of muffins. The dish included what was known as a “hot-water jacket” in the base that was filled with hot water to keep the muffins warm.

WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?
The dish has a matching domed cover and features rounded notches around the edge of the bowl. Look at the top of the lid; a four pronged silver wire finial is topped with a small round setting of mother of pearl. The style and fabrication of the piece is in keeping with the Arts and Crafts movement. The Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by the mid-19th century British philosopher and critic John Ruskin. Ruskin criticized the effects of industrialization on art and the creative process and instead advocated the reorganization of artists into medieval-style guilds. The aim of the guilds was to ensure the highest standards of design and to provide an equally high standard of living for the artists they employed.

To see other objects by Charles Ashbee in the Johnson Museum’s collection, search for object numbers 99.078.099, 99.078.101 a,b, and 99.078.112 in the keyword search box.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.