Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and NMWA’s Silver Anniversary

Detail view of Women Silversmiths from the NMWA Collection

Detail view of Women Silversmiths from the NMWA Collection

It turns out that NMWA’s isn’t the only important anniversary celebration this year. This weekend marks the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking 60 years of her reign with festivities. In honor of the Queen’s Jubilee, we thought it only appropriate to shine a spotlight on our silver collection, currently on view through September 23 in Women Silversmiths from the NMWA Collection.

In the Jubilee spirit, the silver collection at NMWA, which has now grown to more than 200 works, is almost exclusively made by British women silversmiths. Women Silversmiths highlights works from the collection from the 17th and 18th centuries that provide wonderful insight into the trends in decorative arts in those eras.

Alice Sheene, Queen Anne tankard with cover, London, 1706

Alice Sheene, Queen Anne tankard with cover, 1706; Silver assembled by Nancy Valentine, purchased by Lorraine Grace and family

The exhibition is arranged loosely chronologically, and so visitors can easily view the evolution in style from the fanciful and dramatic rococo that was popular under the reigns of Queen Anne, King George I, and King George II to the simple, clean restraint of neoclassicism that prevailed during the reign of King George III.

One of the earliest works in the silver collection is the Queen Anne tankard with cover (1706) made by Alice Sheene. While tankards are more commonly associated today with men, tankards were in fact traditionally given to women as gifts celebrating marriage or childbirth. Do you think Queen Elizabeth will receive any tankards for her Jubilee celebration?

—Stephanie Midon is the curatorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.