Murrle-Bennet & Co., manufacturer (London and Pforzheim)
Loop-handled dish, 1903
H. 5 1/4 x W. 5 1/4 x D. 12 1/2 in.
Throughout the United Kingdom, silvermaking was one of the few crafts at the turn of the century to embrace the Art Nouveau idiom. It did reluctantly, however, largely avoiding the exuberant floral and abstract curvilinear interpretations prevalent on the Continent. An exception was the work produced by Mürrle-Bennet & Co. (Ernst Mürrle and J.B. Bennett) which operated from Pforzheim and London from 1884 to 1916. As was the custom, the best British silver firms chose not to identify their designers as a matter of policy, so the author of this piece remains unknown. Most of their work was sold through Liberty & Co., London, as was most of the finest period silverwork.
The bowl itself recalls the loop-handle dishes produced by the well-known British designer-architect, Charles R. Ashbee, who adopted the curvilinear whiplash elements fresh from the Continent. Mürrle-Bennet expanded on the idea, adding considerably more flair. The looping handles terminate in a heart shape with a twisting inside-out effect, giving equal emphasis to the bowl's silhouette and its cut-out spaces.