Silver epergne by J Henry Steiner

Made by Steiner, Henry in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, c 1880.

Made in the workshop of the colonial silversmith J Henry Steiner (1835-1914), this is Australia’s largest known centrepiece. Standing over a metre tall (without the base!), it towered over Steiner’s displays at the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide international and intercolonial exhibitions from 1879 to 1881. The centrepiece can now confirmed as being made originally for Australia’s first international exhibition held in Sydney in 1879 where it formed part of Steiner’s ‘exceedingly handsome displa...


A large silver epergne in the form of a tree supporting six S-shaped arms each holding a circular crystal bowls and the central branch with a circular ring supporting a larger bowl . Vine tendrils with small bunches of grapes attached under the central ring for the bowl and around the trunk just below the arms. With two stags foraging at the trunk's base. The whole is supported by a pedestal with three niches showing colonial scenes, one including an Aboriginal man holding a spear and an emu, the second with a kangaroo and the third with a shepherd and sheep - all figures are three-dimensional. Between the niches stand three small figures of Aboriginal people in oxidised silver, wearing silver skins, one man holding a boomerang, one man holding a spear, and a woman and child.


987 mm


Probably designed by Henry Steiner, Adelaide, circa 1880. It is possible that the design was provided by Julius Schomburgk.

Made in the workshop of Henry Steiner, Adelaide, circa 1880. Fully marked on the base.

Note regarding glass bowls: On aquisition the Epergne included one original small glass bowl and four reproduction small bowls made in England. Following acquisition the museum commissioned the large central bowl and one small bowl. These were made by Robert Wynne and wheel-cut by Eddie Mills in Sydney.
Steiner, Henry c 1880


Gift of Francis Johnston, Phillip Johnston, Helen Pearce, Victor Alcock and Frank Johnston under the Tax Incentive for the Arts Scheme, 1998
2 July, 1998

Cite this Object

Silver epergne by J Henry Steiner 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Silver epergne by J Henry Steiner |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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