Overall: 14 1/4 x 43 3/8 x 20 1/4 in. ( 36.2 x 110.2 x 51.4 cm )
four hallmarks stamped in relief along outer side of foot ring: obscured "I*L" in serrated rectangle surround, lion passant in rectangular surround, gothic "T" in square surround with rounded corners; three or four small dishes stamped in relief along out
Wrought, cast, and pierced silver George III epergne with five trays mounted on dish cross with four square arms. Arms of dish cross applied to pivoting ring at shoulders of inverted pear-shaped spirit lamp with concave shoulder and repoussé chased spiral gadrooning around body. Lamp top is depressed lid with three trumpet-shaped wick openings and applied gadrooned band around outer edge. Arms of dish cross have cast rosette at ends, and open-work sleeves with applied, scrolled supports ending in pierced shells. Dish cross mounted on cast cabriole legs applied below each sleeve, with pierced shell feet. Maker's marks stamped on legs and base of spirit lamp and at arms. Eperge support arms for trays also applied to cylindrical ring below large, central dish; four additional arms originate from centfitted into cylindrical slots applied to the dish ring supports; each arm is made of four c-scroll sections, the largest of each curves down into the center to support a cast pineapple finial, the three smaller curve upward bracing the central ring; each small dish supported by cast, s-scroll arms inserted into rectangular slots above the dish ring sleeves; each arm is applied to three smaller scrolled arms which are applied to small ring frames; four small pierced, galleried dishes with three pierced bands around the sides and applied spiral gadrooned bands around the rims; each dish has a circular footring which rests inside the ring frames of each arm support; large pierced galleried dish with bands of pierced work around the sides and an applied spiral gadrooned band around the rim fits into the central ring frame with a circular footring applied to the base; stand sits in the center of a three part Sheffield plate tray, with two semi-circular sections on each end and a rectangular central section; flat trays with wooden bases set with mirrored glass fitted into plate frames with vertical galleried sides and eight pairs of arched legs; no maker's marks on the trays.
The epergne, a graceful multi-tiered stand holding five or more dishes, functioned as a sculptural centerpiece for the dining table and as a practical holder for pickles, relishes, sauces, or dessert confections. Epergnes were occasionally paired with a mirrored plateau, a table adornment that gave extra sparkle to the silver, porcelain, and delicacies displayed on its surface. According to family tradition, this epergne paired with a plateau (1915.27o-q), though not an intended pair, were used together on the dining table of Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) and his wife Catherine Van Rensselaer (1734-1803). Both the epergne and plateau were rare forms in eighteenth-century America, found only in the homes of the fashion-conscious elite. The Schuyler epergne is a curious hybrid, combining the features of an epergne with those of a dish cross, a device to keep food hot. Because the central epergne dish appears to sit too far from the spirit lamp for effective heating, perhaps a dish cross and epergne were married at a later date at the request of the Schuylers.
Bequest of Major Philip Schuyler
Philip Schuyler (1733-1804), who married Catherine Van Rensselaer (1734-1803); probably to their son Philip Jeremiah (1768-1835), who married (2nd) Mary Anna Sawyer (1781-1852); to their son George Lee Schuyler (1811-1890), who married Eliza Hamilton (1811-1863); to their son Philip Schuyler (1836-1906), the donor.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.