At gallery, silver objects can transport us to the past

Jeremiah Dummer, Boston, ca. 1690. Two-handled cup –“The Tufts Cup”, Silver 3 5/8 x 6 3/8 x 3 ¾ in. (9.2 x 16.2 x 9.5 cm). The Cahn Collection, St. Louis, Missouri

Works by American silversmiths go on display this month at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“Early American Silver from the Cahn Collection” will be in six locations around the museum beginning April 20.

It includes things like tankards, tea services and shoe buckles that would have been found in homes of wealthy merchants in the 18th century.

There will also be silver objects made by Kansas City artists Robyn Nichols and Erica Voetsch.

From the museum press release:

Catherine L. Futter, a museum curator, said, “I wanted to illustrate that the materials and techniques for silver haven’t changed in 300 years, so I invited the two local silver artists to incorporate their work into the display….”

The Cahn Collection that will be on view consists of more than 60 pieces of Colonial American silver from the late 17th century to the mid-18th century. It is similar to European silver of the period but tends to be more restrained.

Paul Cahn said he would like to educate children about early American life and “silver is one of the avenues that can transport them to the past.”

The grandson of a silversmith acquired his collection over a period of 50 years.

At the exhibition, Futter connects the silver to different themes.

Tankards and cream boats will be displayed in the 1750s Robert Hooper house located in the American galleries. Hooper was a wealthy merchant before he supported the British crown against the American revolution.

Another gallery with portraits of wealthy colonists will feature silver shoe buckles and tankards. Other silver pieces will be incorporated into galleries where European paintings and silver are shown.

In the Bloch Building, Futter mixes the work of the Kansas City artists with the 18th century silver.

“The relationship between 18th-and 21st-century silver indicates that this alluring material continues to fascinate both artists and owners through its intricate designs and glittering surfaces.”

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