In 1899, a solo exhibition of Gilbert Marks’ work was held at the Fine Art Society in London. It is possible that this goblet was included this display, as a piece described as ‘Cup with Poppy Design,’ was listed in the catalogue.
The eminent art critic M. H Spielmann wrote in his foreword to the exhibition, that Marks was “gifted with a dainty imagination, with pure feeling for form and line and to harmonise all, with a love of simplicity of beautiful objects.”
In a review written for The Artist in 1898, Marks was interviewed about his approach to silversmithing. In it he talks about the importance of utilizing the “best capabilities both of the metal and the workman-designer. For this reason I do the designs myself, and never produce a duplicate. No dies or machinery are used and so the artist’s fancy is at work upon the subject in hand from the moment when the design is first conceived to the time when the last detail has been wrought in the metal.”
Marks’ dislike of the soulless and monotonous nature of industrialised life, and its detrimental impact on the arts, is something he shared with John Keats and the Romantic poets. It is in fact possible to link more than just Mark’s artistic motivation to Keats and the Romantics. In his foreword, Spielmann noted the‘sleep-inducing poppies’ that Marks had chosen to use. It is not fanciful to imagine that Keat’s famous poem ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ influenced Marks to make this piece, in particular the following stanza:
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: