The Museum's preeminent collections of American silver, pewter, ceramics, and glass are installed on this level and on the mezzanine balcony below.
Displayed on the northern section of the East Balcony of The Charles Engelhard Court are colonial American silver, pewter, glass, and ceramics, including redware, stoneware, and porcelain. As early as the 1660s, immigrant craftsmen began to establish workshops in which they produced wares that closely followed English and Continental fashions. Goods created during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries typically reflected Baroque traditions. By the mid-eighteenth century, again following Europe's lead, colonial American craftsmen rejected Baroque massiveness and symmetry in favor of the lighter, more curvilinear forms of the Rococo. Imported objects as well as immigrant craftsmen played central roles in transmitting the latest European styles to the Colonies. The objects displayed here offer insights into the domestic environments, craft traditions, and customs of colonial Americans. Colonial American silver is also on view in Gallery 710, Gallery 712, and Gallery 750.
Early Years of a New Nation
The southern section of the East Balcony is devoted to objects produced during the period when America was a young nation. On display is a diverse array of wares, some high style and others more utilitarian, in a variety of media including silver, glass, earthenware, and stoneware. At this time, Neoclassicism became the prevailing aesthetic. First popular in Europe, the style quickly took hold in America, where its allusions to the Classical world resonated as appropriate symbols of the young republic. Immigrant and native-born craftsmen pioneered new techniques, such as the invention of the glass-pressing machine. European-inspired decorative vocabularies also took on distinctive regional characteristics in the hands of American craftsmen. These objects helped define taste and style for the new nation. Other objects dating to this period are on view in Gallery 731 and Gallery 733. Additional Neoclassical silver is also on view in Gallery 750.