A new gallery at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will debut February 28 with one of the finest collections of English silver featuring fine pieces by master silversmiths of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries such as Paul de Lamerie and Paul Storr, and silver retailer Robert Garrard.
“Noble Silver: The Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of English silver at the Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts” will include 16 additional pieces recently given to the museum by Rita Gans. The gift extends the chronological range of the collection and secures VMFA’s position as a destination for the study and appreciation of English silver.
The collection, now numbering 103 pieces, was formed by New Yorkers Jerome and Rita Gans between the mid 1960s and the late 1990s. The couple lent it to the museum in 1988, and Mrs Gans gave the collection to VMFA in 1996 following her husband’s death.
Since then, she has made additional gifts, most notably a rosewater dish and pair of ewers that have an unbroken provenance back to the date of their creation in London in 1699 for Anthony Grey, the 11th Earl of Kent. The dish and ewers were marked by Benjamin Pyne (active 1693-–1727), a leading silversmith in the late Sixteenth and early Seventeenth Centuries who also worked for Queen Anne and King George I.
The collection is also distinguished by 29 pieces by de Lamerie (1688–1751), including a Rococo cup and cover made in 1742–43.
Storr (1771–1844), whose elegant classicism is exemplified by a figure made in 1837–38 of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, after a model by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, is represented with 36 pieces.
An exhibition highlight is a highly sculptural, lavishly detailed, marine-themed soup tureen from 1829–30, marked by Garrard.
The VMFA organized the exhibition, which is curated by Ellenor M. Alcorn, VMFA’s consulting curator, the Gans collection.
A catalog, A Noble Feast: English Silver from the Jerome and Rita Gans Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, will accompany the exhibition.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is on the Boulevard at Grove Avenue. For information, www.vmfa.state.va.us or 804-340-1400.