Wm. Hutton & Sons, manufacturer (Sheffield, England)
Teapot, c. 1920
H. 5 3/4 x W. 8 x D. 7 1/8 in.
From the early 1900s, Wm. Hutton & Sons in Birmingham supplied the retailer, Liberty & Co. of London, with ornamental wares in fine quality silver, copper and pewter. Under the directorship of Thomas Swaffield-Brown, Hutton produced the extraordinary designs of Kate Harris, but most other designers remain anonymous. The firm's director, Herbert Hutton, resigned about the time this teapot was made (1923) and seven years later the goodwill of the company was transferred to James Dixon & Sons in Sheffield.
The teapot's highly angular, Cubist form conveys a strong sense of modernity, yet the medium of hammered pewter recalls the conservative Arts and Crafts table accessories designed for the British trade at the turn of the century, a work seemingly at odds with itself. Interestingly, a similar tea service was exhibited in a traveling show at the Art Center of New York in 1929, a consciousness-raising effort to inform and educate the public as to what constituted modernity in both the States and Europe. Its blend of past, present and future--Cubist modernity with a dash of British eccentricity--remains as arresting today as it must have been in the mid-20s.