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Earth Beneath Our Feet: Incense Burner #3

2000 Harlan W. Butt Born: Princeton, New Jersey 1950 silver, brass, and enamel 4 3/8 x 6 5/8 in. (11.1 x 16.7 cm) diam. Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Midwest Enamelist Guild 2000.45A-B Not currently on view

Luce Center Quote

"The tops of my recent vessels are a stage to spotlight scenes from nature. These often depict both its beauty and harshness." Artist's statement

Luce Center Label

This incense burner, or censer, depicts a dramatic moment in a small corner of nature. An incantation on the edge of the lid reads "devour, transformation, metamorphosis." It refers to the fate of the frog about to be taken by the snake in an act that will transform both creatures. The rich enameling on the body of the censer replicates the hypnotic array of scales on the snake's skin, and calls our attention to the beautiful and the terrifying in nature's cycles.


Animal - amphibian - frog

Animal - reptile - snake

Landscape - plant - water lily

decorative arts

Crafts - Metal


metal - brass

metal - silver

About Harlan W. Butt

Born: Princeton, New Jersey 1950