The history of silversmithing in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain and Europe takes the maker’s mark as its starting point. This talk, and the forthcoming exhibition upon which it is based, will build on past scholarship to plot a broader history, one that looks out and back from the mark and workshop to the mines and refineries where silver ores were extracted and refined. What can we learn from mapping the invisible labor and metallurgical knowledge responsible for converting rocky clumps of metal into pure, refined and workable ingots? And how might this knowledge bear on our understanding of the glittering vessels that we encounter in museums and collections today?
Ethan W. Lasser is the Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art and the Head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. He is responsible for the Museums’ collections of American paintings, sculpture and decorative art and supervises the curatorial team responsible for western art in all media from the medieval period to 1920. He is currently at work on an exhibition that will survey the material history of silver production, ranging from mine to workshop to darkroom.
Lasser is co-founder of the Minding Making project, and a fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership. From 2007 to 2012, he served as Curator at the Chipstone Foundation and Chipstone Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He graduated from Williams College and received a PhD in the History of Art from Yale University.
Organised by Professor David Peters Corbett (The Courtauld)