Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York

Overview

Myer Myers, a Jewish silversmith in colonial America, created outstanding works for leading members of the New York elite, and the objects made in his workshop have long been regarded as among the most important American statements of the Rococo style. These works are also valuable for the information they provide about craftsmanship, patronage, colonial Judaism, and changing cultural values in pre- and post-Revolutionary America. This stunning catalogue presents works from Myers’s workshop in conjunction with ...
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Overview

Myer Myers, a Jewish silversmith in colonial America, created outstanding works for leading members of the New York elite, and the objects made in his workshop have long been regarded as among the most important American statements of the Rococo style. These works are also valuable for the information they provide about craftsmanship, patronage, colonial Judaism, and changing cultural values in pre- and post-Revolutionary America. This stunning catalogue presents works from Myers’s workshop in conjunction with essays by eminent authorities on his life and times, all of which shed light on significant themes and events in American culture and history. Myers’s lifelong membership in the New York Jewish community, for example, reveals much about the role of religious minorities and social toleration in eighteenth-century America, and the artifacts he created for his family and religious community provide a vivid picture of colonial Jewish life. At the same time, Myers’s career as a silversmith offers insights into the complexities of preindustrial craftsmanship in America, showing that silversmiths were less autonomous than has previously been assumed. Catalogue entries provide a chronological survey of Myers’s career, highlighting his finest work, situating it within his routine shop production, and focusing on key objects to evoke the interplay of influences that shaped individual works of American art.

Author Biography: David L. Barquist is associate curator of American decorative arts at the Yale University Art Gallery. Jon Butler is William Robertson Coe Professor of American History and professor of religious studies and history at Yale University. Jonathan D. Sarna is Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and professor of Judaic studies at Brandeis University.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Handsomely designed and printed. . . . The book [is] bound to remain the standard reference work on Myers for a long time.
Owen McNally
In a monumental effort, [Barquist] seems to have gathered every scrap of information one can excavate from old documents.
Hartford Courant
Rite Reif
[Myers Myers] produced a greater understanding of Myers' business . . . exploding forever the myth that ever craftsman worked by himself.
New York Times
Publishers Weekly
An artisan's life work is celebrated in Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York by David L. Barquist, an associate curator at the Yale University Art Gallery. During the second half of the 18th century, Myers produced many objects for New York's Jewish community and the city's elite. Jon Butler contributes an essay on ethnosocial relations in the new city, and Jonathan D. Sarna zeroes in on the Sephardim of early New York, describing how the city attracted many "Crypto-Jews, forced converts who were outwardly Christian but inwardly Jewish." This admirable book, including nearly 200 photographs of rich rococo silverwork of the first order, is the catalogue to a Yale exhibition curated by Barquist, and delivers a fascinating scholarly look at a previously obscure aspect of pre-revolutionary America. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The catalog of an exhibition at Yale University (where Barquist is associate curator of American decorative arts at the art gallery), as well as Skirball in Los Angeles and Winterthur in Delaware, this is both a well-researched contribution on the work and life of the Jewish silversmith Myer Myers and an examination of the society in which he lived. Each of the silver pieces presented is fully described in terms of provenance and history, and each is beautifully photographed not an easy accomplishment with silver, whose detail is difficult to capture. In addition to the catalog, the book presents paintings of the leading figures of colonial New York in Myers's day; documents about colonial Jewry; a section, with photographs and explanation, of the marks Myers used to stamp his work; and a long essay on Myers's life. Of interest to historians and art historians, this book boasts a clear and concise style that will make it appealing to the general public as well. Recommended for public as well as academic libraries and especially for collections dedicated to Judaica. Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300090574
  • Publisher: Yale University Art Gallery
  • Publication date: 9/10/2001
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.87 (w) x 11.71 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Table of Contents

Director's Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Lenders to the Exhibition
Notes to the Catalogue
The New York World of Myer Myers 1
Colonial Judaism 8
"That Noted and Proficient Mechanic": The Life and Career of Myer Myers 25
Catalogue of the Exhibition 77
Silver by Myer Myers 78
New York and London Silver 204
Paintings, Documents, and Prints 224
App. I Marks 253
App. II Documents 260
Bibliographical Abbreviations 266
Index 291
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