Thomas Pairpoint Gorham Manufacturing Company
Thomas Pairpoint, American, Neptune Epergne, 1876, Silver with gilding; 66 x 91.4 x 54.6 cm (26 x 36 x 21 1/2 inches), The Gorham Collection. Gift of Textron Inc. 1991.126.80
Gorham exhibited the Neptune epergne and plateau at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Columbia, patriotic symbol of the United States, floats above the tiered epergne (centerpiece). Neptune, the Roman god of the oceans who created and gave the horse to mankind, appears below her on the central plaque. He is more subtly referenced in the plateau (base), which bears a decorative adaptation of the Greek Parthenon’s equestrian frieze. This neoclassical creation for the display of fruit and flowers is one element of a 740-piece dining service for twenty-four commissioned by Colonel Henry Jewett Furber of Chicago. Given in its entirety to RISD, it includes candelabras, butter pats, wine coolers, and hundreds of specialized flatware pieces executed in a variety of Victorian-era styles.