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Drawing, Design for Fish Servers

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Archibald Knox. It is dated ca. 1904–12 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is graphite on white wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

While there is no evidence that this design for a Fish Serving Set was produced during Knox’s lifetime, in 1995 John Jesse, the collector who purchased this pair of drawings from Knox’s pupil Denise Wren, had a set produced from the drawings by Alan Mudd, an English enameller whose original design for a silver, parcel-gilt, and enameled Fish Slice was acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2008.
This design drawing for a fish knife and fork, with each element shown from above and in side-profile, contains series of cross-sectional “slices” of different sections of each piece. Knox has included a series of small letter notations which show how each element of construction in one view of the fork or knife corresponds to the other. A cross-section of the neck of the fork, where the decorative knot-work recesses as the thicker central band rises toward the prongs of the fork, features the handwritten notation “section on CC [cross-cut]” underneath.
The openwork interlace decoration on the fork and knife, with the intended negative spaces articulated with the help of light, diagonal hatch-lines in the background, is more angular than in the previous design drawing for spoons, forks and knives. This interlace decoration would have required hand-filing out the negative space after casting, the resulting piece born of the mix of industrialized production and handwork which characterized the late 19th century Arts & Crafts movement. Unlike the decorative registers in the middle- and upper-portions of these pieces, Knox’s cross-sections of the lower sections of the handles show no three-dimensional modeling or other plastic ornamentation; a hand-written notation in the lower-right margin notes that the handles were meant to be constructed “of ivory or other colored material.”

It is credited Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Its dimensions are

21.6 × 30.5 cm (8 1/2 in. × 12 in.)

It is inscribed

Inscribed in graphite, upper right: 11; in graphite, lower right: FISH / KNIFE / & / FORK; in graphite, lower right corner: handle of / ivory or other / cushioned material; in graphite, in plan view of fish fork: ivory / handle; in graphite, lower left of plan view of fish fork: section on CC

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for Fish Servers; Designed by Archibald Knox (British, 1864 - 1933); graphite on white wove paper; 21.6 × 30.5 cm (8 1/2 in. × 12 in.); Museum purchase from the Members' Acquisitions Fund of Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum; 2017-16-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108806873/ |title=Drawing, Design for Fish Servers |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=10 August 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>