Survey of Silver: Renaissance to Modern
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Level: Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
Department: Art/Design Hist & Theory
Course Number: PGHT 5704
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Art History, Theory & Criticism
  • Design History, Theory & Criticism
  • Visual Culture
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed significant transformations in the style, production, and distribution of precious metal objects in both Britain and the United States, with further alterations over the course of the first half of the twentieth century. Course participants examine these transformations through lectures, detailed independent object examinations, and study of relevant primary and secondary source materials. After an introduction to the properties of silver and gold, and to traditional and industrial techniques of fabrication and ornamentation, the course will focus on the products made by British and American precious metal smiths from 1700 to 1950, their marketing, and their uses in the societies in which they were produced. Issues of identification and connoisseurship of precious metal objects will be covered, with a local field trip to view museum installations of relevant objects. Course requirements: a midterm slide exam reviewing concepts discussed in the first month of lectures (20% of final grade); a written review of the exhibition Gilded New York on view at the Museum of the City of New York through mid-November, 2014 (not to exceed 1250 words or 5 double-spaced pages) (20% of final grade), and two papers and accompanying oral presentations (each 30% of final grade). The first paper is a museum acquisition recommendation, for a specific lot of British or American silver, 1700-1950, offered for sale in the fall New York silver sales (at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonham’s, Doyle, or Heritage). The second paper will be a catalogue entry and related “gallery talk” for a “masterwork” of British or American silver produced between 1700 and 1950 chosen from a major museum collection for a “virtual exhibition.” Objects for the catalogue entries must be approved in advance to prevent duplication of objects or maker/manufacturer. The “virtual exhibition” theme will be “Silver for Festive Tables.”
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: University graduate students.


Open to Graduate students.