Beyond the Maker’s Mark: Paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection

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Beyond the Maker’s Mark: Paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection Opens October 19 at the MIA

Minneapolis, August 13, 2008—De Lamerie silver from one of the most important collections in private hands will be on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Art beginning this October. “Beyond the Maker’s Mark: Paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection” showcases the extraordinary work of Paul de Lamerie (1688–1751), London’s leading eighteenth-century silversmith. The exhibition features around one hundred individual objects, including the fabulous Rococo silver piece known as the “Maynard Dish” from 1736-37. Organized by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, this exhibition will be on view at the MIA from October 19, 2008, through April 19, 2009.

“The exhibition examines the larger context of de Lamerie’s work, tracking the changes in his firm’s style, from Baroque to Rococo,” said Jennifer Komar Olivarez, Associate Curator of Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft, and Sculpture at the MIA. “It also addresses de Lamerie’s complex enterprise, including his clients, craftsmen, and suppliers, and presents objects by his contemporaries to illustrate the multifaceted web of the silver industry in the first half of the eighteenth century.”

At the time, London was a center for the production of luxury goods, and de Lamerie’s pieces set the standard for fine craftsmanship. The growing popularity of coffee and tea gave rise to a range of specialized wares, as did the introduction of new French foods, requiring a variety of serving vessels. Relative prosperity and diplomatic necessity ensured that stunning presentation silver remained popular and reflected the latest in international fashion.

London’s booming economy attracted skilled artisans from across Europe, many of who, like de Lamerie’s parents, were Huguenots fleeing persecution in France. De Lamerie’s mark appears on numerous silver objects, ranging from candelabra to complete dinner services. Some of the most innovative objects of the period were designed and made by now anonymous artisans, who worked for established makers such as de Lamerie.

Among the highlights is the “Maynard Dish,” one of the most significant works in the Cahn Collection from de Lamerie’s workshop. From 1736, the dish’s design is attributed to an enigmatic figure known only as the “Maynard Master.” Named for its patron Grey Maynard, this outstanding piece of Rococo silver measures more than twenty-six inches in diameter. Its richly cast and chased surface is embellished with expressive masks alternating with depictions of the four elements. The robust putti and three-dimensional scrolls are recognized as characteristic of the artist’s style.

Also on view is a one-of-a-kind tureen in the shape of a green turtle. From 1750, the tureen is an extraordinary cap to the end of de Lamerie’s career. With an unusually naturalistic form, the tureen was meant for serving turtle soup, a popular dish brought to England from the West Indies. The designer of this piece, perhaps looking at a printed source, created what was certainly a crowd-pleaser at the table.

On Sunday, October 19, from 11 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., the MIA will host a public symposium featuring a viewing of the exhibition and lectures by Christopher Hartop, former head of silver at Christie’s in New York; Ellenor Alcorn, curator of the exhibition and former curator of European decorative arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Ubaldo Vitali, a master silversmith, conservator, and scholar trained at the University of Rome as well as in his grandfather’s and father’s workshop. The day concludes with an object handling session allowing participants to explore silver connoisseurship. The symposium is $40 for general admission and $25 for museum members.

An illustrated, color catalogue written by curator Ellenor M. Alcorn, with a foreword by Tessa Murdoch, Deputy Keeper at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, accompanies this exhibition.

The tour venues include the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Nov. 7, 2006–Jan. 21, 2007); Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Tennessee (March 30–July 22, 2007); Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri (Oct. 28, 2007–Jan. 27, 2008); Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (April 18–June 22, 2008); and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Oct. 18, 2008–April 19, 2009).

This exhibition is organized and circulated by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and made possible by the Cahn Family Foundation.

About the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the country, houses more than 80,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt, Poussin, and van Gogh; modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Stella, and Close; as well as internationally significant collections of prints and drawings, decorative arts, Modernist design, textiles, photographs, and Asian, African, and Native American art. General admission is always free. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee. Museum hours: Sunday, 11 A.M.–5 P.M.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 A.M.–5 P.M.; Thursday, 10 A.M.–9 P.M.; Monday closed. For more information, call (612) 870-3131 or visit

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