Myer Myers (1723–1795), 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 18th-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.