- Museum number
Pancake and corn set; chromium-plated brass, comprising butter can, salt and pepper pot, on tray with deep blue glass base.
- Production date
- 1934 (designed;pre)
Diameter: 15.30 centimetres (tray)
Height: 13 centimetres (can)
Height: 3 centimetres (pot)
Height: 4.60 centimetres (pot)
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no. 318
Russel Wright trained as a theatrical designer with Norman Bel Geddes (see Decorative Arts 1850-1950, Cat. 113) in the 1920s before setting up his own studio for the design of furniture and other household products for retail sale in aluminium, chrome, ceramics and wood. Following the success of his aluminium wares and his participation in the Metropolitan Museum's Third International Exhibition of Contemporary Industrial Art in 1930-31 (cat. nos 423-6), Wright received a consulting commission from the Chase Brass & Copper Company.
The Chase Company introduced its chromium line in about 1930. Chrome was then becoming fashionable as a sleek new 'machine age' material, especially during the Depression years, when it was widely used as a substitute for silver. The Metropolitan Museum's exhibition of industrial art contained a large group of German metalwork designed by Marianne Brandt at the Bauhaus, by Wilhelm Wagenfeld and by Wolfgang von Wersin and others. Much of Chase's chromium line seems indebted to Bauhaus theories and the German metalwork shown in New York may also have influenced Chase's choice of designers, among whom were two designers of German origin: Walter von Nessen (who left Berlin for America in 1923) and Albert Reimann (see Cat. 254).
Wright's corn set was included in the Industrial Arts Exposition held at the Rockefeller Plaza, New York, in 1934 (see Arts and Decoration 41, New York May 1934, 49) and is illustrated, with other designs by Wright, in the Chase Company's 1936-7 catalogue (reprinted as 'Chase Chrome', ed. G. Koch, Stamford, Connecticut 1978, p. 22, no. 28003). The accompanying text reads: 'This amusing four-piece set designed by Russel Wright in polished chromium will add sparkle and color to any table setting. Deep blue glass forms the bottom of the tray. The pitcher may be used for syrup, drawn butter, cream, French dressing, or chocolate sauce for ice-cream. The spheres will hold salt and pepper, powdered sugar and other condiments.' The price for the set was $4, the pitcher only $2 and the spheres $1. There was also a larger sugar sphere and a sphere pitcher with Bakelite handle (p. 14, nos 90078 and 90079), but the pitcher is not credited to Wright and may be the firm's own addition. The production of the Chase chromium line ceased in 1942.
For further discussion, including Wright's chromium designs for his own studio, see Creative Art 9, New York 1931, 475-82; W.J. Hennessey, 'Russel Wright: American designer', Gallery Association of New York State, Cambridge, Mass. 1983, 26-7; A. Kerr, 'Russel Wright Dinnerware: Designs for the American table', Paducah, Kentucky 1985, 29-30 and Brooklyn 1986, The Brooklyn Museum, 'The Machine Age in America', 326.
For information supplementary to Rudoe 1994 see: D. Johnson & L. Pina, 'Chase Complete. Deco Specialities of the Chase Brass & Copper Co.', Aiglen, Pennsylvania, 1999. pp. 38-39.
- On display (G48/dc6)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number