In honor of NMWA’s 25th—silver—anniversary, the museum is presenting a special display of its collection of works by British and Irish women silversmiths, on view March 23–September 23, 2012.
The collection represents different women makers, who worked in widely varying styles to create objects from the William & Mary period through the reign of Queen Victoria. The works, made in England and Ireland between 1695 and 1852, express the way in which women lived and worked during that period. Through this array of silver household objects, viewers have a chance to study history, social customs, and design. Except for a magnificent silver epergne by Hester Bateman, on loan from S.J. Shrubsole in New York, all of the works on view are from NMWA’s collection. The collection was originally assembled by Nancy Valentine, a founding member of NMWA and a former chair of the National Advisory Board, with funding from Lorraine and Oliver Grace and family. It has continued to grow over the years to more than 190 pieces.
This installation, which includes a number of works by women of Huguenot descent, has a special connection to NMWA’s current exhibition Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections. In the current issue of Women in the Arts, Nancy Valentine explains why Huguenot women silversmiths are well-represented in NMWA’s collection:
“Huguenots, French Protestant families, fled Catholic persecution in 1685. Among the Huguenots who settled in England were many of the finest silversmiths of their time, trained to please the extravagant excesses of Louis XIV’s court. Their skills and styles continued to influence English silver at the same time the women in Royalists to Romantics painted in France. The English silver on display is marked by women Huguenot silversmiths of French descent including Elizabeth Godfrey, Anne Tanqueray, Magdalen Feline, Louisa Courtauld, and Isabel Pero.”
For more information about NMWA’s silver collection, visit the museum, become a member, or learn more at nmwa.org.