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Ptarmigan VaseEnlarge image

Ptarmigan Vase, c. 1900-1903

George Paulding Farnham
États-Unis, 7 - 1936
copper, silver, and gold
63.5 cm high
Purchased 2011 with the assistance of a grant from the Government of Canada under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43265)

The vibrant surface of this mokume piece results from the bonding of 18 layers of metal. Form and ornamentation are rich in meaning. The shape of the vase evokes the basketry and pottery produced by Aboriginal North Americans, and this influence is also evident in several of the decorative motifs. The solid gold seal adoring the front bears the British Columbia coat of arms adopted in 1895. The Latin cross immediately beneath is a surveying symbol that indicates the latitude and longitude where the Ptarmigan Mines and Mount Farnham (named for the designer) are situated. The realistic figure of the golden-eyed silver bird is a celebration of the local fauna, the ptarmigan being a type of grouse found in Western Canada.

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