English Silver from the Jerome and Rita Gans Collection
at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

by Christopher Hartop
with a preface by Ellenor Alcorn





Published by
Virginia Museum
of Fine Arts
in association with
John Adamson

88 pp.
167 illustrations
in colour
and b&w
11 5/8 × 8 ¹/2 in.
(295 × 215 mm)

ISBN: 978-0-917046-83-4
paperback US$25.00

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The stunning beauty of English silver crafted over three centuries is celebrated in this profusely illustrated book. Through examples from the collection of Rita and the late Jerome Gans, this study of English silver examines the developments that took place in eating and drinking habits in Stuart, Hanoverian and Victorian England. Foreign influences, not only from France, Spain, and Italy but also from the New World, figure prominently in the customs of the tabletop during this period of English history. The prosperity of Restoration London and the tremendous expansion of Britain’s overseas possessions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are reflected in the way in which people ate and drank. Fascinating characters such as the aristocratic 11th Earl of Kent, Lord Chesterfield, and Admiral Anson, who first made his name patrolling the seas off the Carolinas in the 1730s and later captured a Spanish treasure galleon, bring the silver to life. It was an age of confidence in artistic endeavor as well as in trade and industry, and silver produced in London between 1660 and 1860 is acknowledged to be among the most vibrant and technologically advanced in the world. With over fifty-five color illustrations, this book also features a complete catalogue of the Gans Collection in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

Amassed over a period of some thirty years, the collection of Rita and the late Jerome Gans is one of the glories of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and one of the leading silver collections in the United States. Works by such celebrated masters as Paul de Lamerie, Paul Storr, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, and Robert Garrard are well represented. Besides giving a survey of its historical and social themes, this book also features an updated catalogue of the collection, now to be seen in an elegant new gallery at the museum. Well-known experts Christopher Hartop, Ellenor Alcorn, and Philippa Glanville present a veritable feast of silver splendor.

‘a delightful new catalog that uses the Gans collection to illustrate English eating and drinking mores from 1600 to 1900’,
                             Wendy Moonan, The New York Times



Director’s Foreword


Preface by Ellenor Alcorn

Eating and Drinking in England, 1600-1900

  • Hors d’œuvre

  • From Renaissance Magnificence to Englightened Elegance

  • Entremets I: French Influences, 1660-1750
    by Philippa Glanville

  • Georgian Splendor

  • Entremets II: Regency Delights, 1800-1830
    by Philippa Glanville

  • Victorian Formality

Further Reading

Catalogue of the Jerome and Rita Gans Collection II

Bibliography of Works Cited


Photographic Credits


The Authors

Christopher Hartop is also the author of the companion volume to this book, A Noble Pursuit: English Silver from the Rita Gans Collection in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. His numerous books on silver include The Huguenot Legacy: English Silver 1680–1760 (1996), British and Irish Silver in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (2007) and, most recently, The Classical Ideal: English Silver, 1760–1840 (2010). He contributed to Rococo Silver in England and Its Colonies: Papers from a Symposium at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, in 2004 (2006). From 1984 to 1999 he worked for Christie’s, New York, where he was head of the silver department and later Executive Vice-President in charge of the curatorial departments. He is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and was Chairman of the Silver Society, London, 2002–3 and 2009–11.

Ellenor Alcorn is Associate Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Between 2003 and 2010 she was consulting curator for the Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of English Silver at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is preparing a catalogue of the British silver in the Toledo Museum of Art. For twenty years she was a curator in the Department of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is the author of English Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (vol. 1, 1993 and vol. 2, 2000) and Beyond the Maker’s Mark: Paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection (2006). She also contributed to Rococo Silver in England and Its Colonies: Papers from a Symposium at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, in 2004 (2006).



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