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Sugar bowl, (untitled), 1903
Charles Robert Ashbee
Sugar bowl, (untitled),
Charles Robert Ashbee,

Sugar bowl, (untitled),

Charles Robert Ashbee
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Ausstellungsstrasse 60
8031 Zurich
Museum map
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 94
8031 Zurich
  • (untitled) Charles Robert Ashbee
  • (untitled) Charles Robert Ashbee
  • (untitled) Charles Robert Ashbee
Listen to the text

With his squat yet elongated silver sugar bowl, Charles Robert Ashbee (1863–1942) created a vivid embodiment of the mindset of the Guild of Handicraft that he had inspired. Despite its sleek overall shape, the bowl boasts precious details crafted meticulously by hand.

The silver objects produced by the multitalented English designer Charles Robert Ashbee for the tables of the haute bourgeoisie consist of elaborate creations such as this elegant sugar bowl. The main attraction for both hand and eye is the lid with its knob in the shape of a hollowed-out poppy capsule. A mother-of-pearl inlay enriches this knob with a bright crown, which stands out as particularly decorative against the lid’s enameled inlay through which creased silver foil shines through. The oversize handles that jut far out to either side arise organically from the round base and flow back into the upper edge of the bowl. Their upward bulge fits perfectly in the hand. An inlay of green glass protects the interior of the metal vessel from oxidative substances such as sugar. Exterior fingerprints and other markings were unavoidable and only removable through polishing. Trained as an architect, Ashbee worked as an interior designer, silversmith, craftsman, art theoretician, and poet. In 1888, he encouraged the founding of the School of Handicraft and the affiliated Guild of Handicraft as a way for English craftsmen to cooperate in the production and dissemination of modern, high-quality handmade objects of daily use as counterparts to industrial mass-produced goods. Similar organizations on the European continent followed the model of this craft guild, such as the Wiener Werkstätte and the Manufaktur Amstelhoek in Omval near Amsterdam. (Sabine Flaschberger)

Zuckerdose mit Deckel, 1903
Entwurf: Charles Robert Ashbee
Herstellung: Guild of Handicraft, London, GB
Material/Technik: Silber, getrieben, ziseliert, emailliert; Perlmutt; Glas
10 × 24 × 10.8 cm
Eigentum: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Sigrid Barten (Hg.), Um 1900. Verborgene Schätze aus der Sammlung des Museums Bellerive, Zürich 1999.

Alan Crawford, C.R. Ashbee – Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist, 1985.

Image creditso

Zuckerdose mit Deckel, 1903, Entwurf: Charles Robert Ashbee
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Zuckerdose mit Deckel, (geöffnet), um 1903, Entwurf: Charles Robert Ashbee
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Senftopf mit Löffel, um 1903, Entwurf: Charles Robert Ashbee
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Deckelpokal, 1903, Entwurf: Charles Robert Ashbee
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Exhibition texto
Metal: Sugar Bowls and Creamers

The tasteful tea and coffee service was a key attribute for any stylish household around the turn of the last century, retaining its place in upscale home decor during the following decades. These metal objects exemplifying this luxury period tableware show various design approaches in silver and brass that made their way from England to Denmark and then to Switzerland. Designers regarded such exquisite handcrafted items as the better alternative to mass-produced goods.