Ladle

Ladle

Artist: Maria Regnier
Type: sterling silver
Year: circa 1950
Size/Dimensions: 5 7/8 x 1 ¾ in.
Origin: Gala Fund Purchase
Accession Number: 2018.2

From the small city of Camden (Ouachita County), silversmith Maria Regnier hammered out works of sterling silver that earned the attention of museums and galleries across the nation. Born in Hungary in 1901, Regnier immigrated to America in the 1920s and studied at Washington University in St. Louis and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence before returning to settle in St. Louis. In a news article, Regnier expressed her thoughts on form and material, saying, “My work is simple. To me what is important is that something be whole, beautiful and give you pleasure. . . . It takes out the monotony of machine stamping.” Her works reflect her embrace of bare, unembellished silver, and her geometric and simple style resonated with Machine Age modernism works of the mid-twentieth century.
Regnier received national acclaim throughout her life as a silversmith. This acclaim, while glowing, often came in a patronizing tone, qualifying her work as done by a woman, with headlines like “rare woman silversmith” and “Skilled in an Art Few Women Have Ever Mastered.” Her work was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as in Chicago and New York.
Regnier, by then a mature silversmith, moved to Camden, where she taught local silversmithing classes. She described teaching as a gratifying experience: “[M]an has always wanted to possess beautiful things and man wants to do things. In a class . . . the two are combined and the result is satisfying.” Regnier’s desire for beautiful things and her need to create resulted in works such as this ladle. She stopped actively smithing in the 1970s, although her work was exhibited in St. Louis twice in the following decade.

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Ladle