Useful and Beautiful: Silvercraft by William Waldo Dodge

  • September 09, 2021 15:46

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William Waldo Dodge, Footed bowl with acanthus leaf decoration, 1936, hammered silver, 6 × 15 ½ inches. Gift of the William W. Dodge Family, 2016.08.22. © Estate of the Artist, image David Dietrich.

Useful and Beautiful: Silvercraft by William Waldo Dodge features a selection of functional silver works by Dodge drawn from the Asheville Art Museum’s Collection. Organized by the Asheville Art Museum and curated by Whitney Richardson, associate curator, this exhibition will be on view from February 23 through October 17, 2022. 

William Waldo Dodge Jr. (Washington, DC 1895–1971 Asheville, NC) moved to Asheville in 1924 as a trained architect and a newly skilled silversmith. When he opened for business promoting his handwrought silver tableware, including plates, candlesticks, flatware (spoons, forks, and knives), and serving dishes, he did so in a true Arts and Crafts tradition. The aesthetics of the style were dictated by its philosophy: an artist’s handmade creation should reflect their hard work and skill, and the resulting artwork should highlight the material from which it was made. Dodge’s silver often displayed his hammer marks and inventive techniques, revealing the beauty of these useful household goods. 

William Waldo Dodge Jr., Lidded vegetable bowl, 1932, hammered silver, 6 × 6 5/8 × 6 5/8 inches. Gift of William Waldo Dodge III, 2005.26.02.59. © Estate of William Waldo Dodge Jr.

The Arts and Crafts style of England became popular in the United States in the early 1900s. Asheville was an early adopter of the movement because of the popularity and abundance of Arts and Crafts architecture in neighborhoods like Biltmore Forest, Biltmore Village, and the area around The Grove Park Inn. The title of this exhibition was taken from the famous quotation by one of the founding members of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris, who said, “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Not only did Dodge follow this suggestion; he contributed to American Arts and Crafts silver’s relevancy persisting almost halfway into the 20th century.   

William Waldo Dodge Jr., Tea caddie, circa 1926, hammered silver, 6 1/8 × 4 3/8 × 4 3/8 inches. Gift of the William W. Dodge Family, 2016.08.05. © Estate of William Waldo Dodge Jr.

"It has been over 15 years since the Museum exhibited its collection of William Waldo Dodge silver and I am looking forward to displaying it in the new space with some new acquisitions added," said Whitney Richardson, associate curator. Learn more at ashevilleart.org.


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