In 1963 there appeared a catalogue entitled English and Other Silver in the Irwin Untermyer Collection. This volume completed a series of six, each devoted to a different aspect of one of the world's great private collections of decorative arts. In the interim the silver collection has been enriched by many remarkable works of art, both English and Continental. This new publication, greatly enlarged and completely revised, differs significantly from the first edition of English and Other Silver in that the objects, which range from the Tudor period to the nineteenth century, are presented in chronological order rather than by type. As before, however, each of the pieces is fully illustrated, and its hallmarks are reproduced in photographic enlargements. Some of the splendid new acquisitions replace lesser examples acquired earlier and now no longer in the collection. These new additions allow one to trace more clearly than before the formation of distinctive English styles, as well as the artistic development of such silversmiths as Nelme, Platel, Willaumc, Mcttayer, Pantin, and Lamerie. Few other collections of English silver, private or public, offer comparable opportunities for the student and the connoisseur.
The examples of Continental silver and gold, though fewer in number than the English, are characteristic of their countries of origin. They serve also to illustrate prevailing styles elsewhere, since trends of style in silver are rarely confined to individual countries. In this collection, then, we observe the international give and take that occurred at periods when fashions changed and new styles were launched. Further knowledge is obtained by viewing these works in relation to their historical context. Royal marriages frequently resulted in the exchange of plate or of foreign artists, whose contribution was often considerable. We need only recall England's ties of this sort to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland, France, and Germany. English domestic silver, moreover, assumed new forms as a result of the importation of rare spices from distant countries and, during the reign of Charles II, through the introduction of tea, coffee, and chocolate. Liturgical silver, on the other hand, reflects the changes of religious practice, emphasized by the introduction of the communion cup in place of the earlier chalice. All these developments, which stimulated the creative genius of the English silversmith, are represented in the Untermyer Collection.
This volume of the Catalogue of the Irwin Untermyer Collection has been prepared, like all the previous volumes, by Dr. Yvonne Hackenbroch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her introduction and her detailed notes and comments place each object in bright relief against a background of social and art history.